Exit 12 Dance Company
Exit 12 Dance Company focuses on nonverbal communication to bridge communities and healing through creative expression and has choreographed several productions about the issues faced by service members and their families. Roman Baca, a professional ballet dancer, put his dance career aside and enlisted in the Marines in 2000. He was deployed to Fallujah in 2005 and by the time his tour was over, he thought he would not dance again. In a February 2013 Village Voice feature story, Baca described the anxiety, anger, and depression he experienced upon his return home. He looked to find a way to channel these emotions into something productive. Baca always wanted to start a dance company, and so Exit 12 was born. Among Exit 12 Dance Company’s productions is Homecoming, a ballet about war’s effects on families based on letters Baca and his family wrote to each other. During the dance, the letters are read. The dancing illuminates the emotions that the letters alone can’t express. Another work, called Conflicted, is about the relationship between the American military and the Iraqi people. Baca’s personal healing has been made possible not only by his return to dance but also by his return to Iraq. Through a Fellowship awarded by Battery Dance Company, which works overseas with support from the U.S. State Department, Baca has led dance workshops with Kurdish and Arab youth. They created a dance about what it is like to live through a war, their perceptions of Americans, and their hopes for a better future. The piece was performed for hundreds in the Iraqi and military community, members of the Ministry of Culture in Iraq, and members of the U.S. Consulate. Exit 12 is committed to creating and performing works of high cultural significance that inspire conversations about worldly differences and the lasting effects of violence and conflict on communities, families, and individuals. Through movement, they educate audiences about the reality of war, advocate diversity and mutual understanding through cultural exchange, and champion the humanity and dignity of all persons. The company supports and advances the notion that art heals, and is devoted to serving those who have been touched by conflict by expressing their stories.