Román Baca, classical ballet dancer, choreographer, and US Marine Iraq War Veteran, decided to bring the two parts of his life together, dancing about war, with his dance company Exit12, in order to reconnect with art and community - post war. Since 2007 Exit12 Dance Company has told stories of war through choreography and dance in order to connect audiences, provoke conversation, provide movement and creative opportunities to veterans, and advocate for veteran’s affairs and peacebuilding. Exit12’s works can best be explained in its three modes of delivery: performance, workshops, and lectures.
The flagship performance that Exit12 has performed around the world, Stories of War, is part storytelling production - part repertory dance performance. Stories of individuals who have seen the effects of war, first-hand, are told before each dance work. The dance works then expand the imagination by going into themes that are sometimes hard to put into words. Román Baca’s Conflict(ed) tells of a roadside vehicle search during the Iraq War where he was pitted against the orders he was given, and his inner empathy and humanity. Taylor Gordon’s For My Father depicts the story of her and her father’s experience through her brother’s service in the US Army, which tragically ended by suicide. Investigating these themes through theatre and dance, and presenting them to audiences, empowers those who have been impacted by war to tell their stories, and further engages audiences in empathy and conversation.
Alongside their performances Exit12 hosts workshops and lectures in the local community, to educate, inform, and connect the public to the experiences of war. Exit12 believes that peace comes through exposing the multi-faceted truths of war to the public, and by having hard conversations about the realities of war. Exit12’s Movement 2 Contact, a creative movement workshop for veterans and civilians, engages individuals in telling stories and moving and creating theatre and dance about the military and war experience. Lectures about their work, and the journey of Exit12, have inspired audiences worldwide, encouraging individuals to use artistic expression unlocking imagination and possibility through movement about the realities of war.
How can we as a community help this mission?
From reading the above text about Exit12, it is evident that this incredible dance company supports and advocates the notion that dance heals. They are dedicated and devoted to serve those that have been touched by conflict by expressing their stories.
So, how can we as a community help? Consider donating directly to this company.
Click here to visit their donation page.
The worlds of ballet and the military do not often draw comparisons of one another; however, they are more alike than they seem. Ballet training is regimented and demanding, with a requirement of strict discipline woven throughout training and professional life. Some dance instructors have been called ballet Drill Sergeants for their domineering teaching style and barking of orders. In contrast, the military, like ballet, uses terms and concepts like rehearsal, choreography, and theatre. Military individuals are dancers, starting most days with a physical warmup, and then drilling choreographed movements used for war.