Iraqi War Veteran
Roman Baca is a U.S. Marine Iraqi war veteran as well as the co-founder and artistic director of Exit12 Dance Company in New York City. Since founding the dance company in 2007, Baca has choreographed several major works relating to the military and their families, writes and lectures about his experiences, and worked on two short films, A Marine’s Guide to Fishing and War Dancer. As a teaching artist, Baca has worked with young adults in Iraq and in NYC public schools to help them express their experiences through choreography and non-verbal expression.
As a military veteran himself, his priority is to help veterans realize their potential in the civilian world and the impact they could make in their communities. He has conducted veteran/civilian movement workshops that provide tools to aid veterans in the workplace and bridge the civilian-veteran divide. Baca was also a fellow with The Mission Continues and is currently a spokesperson for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Baca is a recipient of a 2012 Fellowship from The Mission Continues, a 2009 producing and presenting grant from AjkunBT, a 2010 Access DanceUSA Scholarship from DanceNYC through support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Brian Tippen Memorial Scholarship and the Connecticut Wartime Veterans Medal.
Veteran artists help heal a war-scarred world
I am an enigma in both the military world and the dance world. I am a ballet dancer that wanted more out of dance than just the typical ballet or contemporary dance work, I wanted choreography to deal with real world issues, so I joined the Marines. I am the military veteran who donned combat boots and cammies in a ballet I choreographed on a stage in New York City promoting social change through the art of movement.
Last year I had the opportunity to travel back to Iraq as a civilian and work with two groups of young people from Erbil and Kirkuk, Iraq. Erbil is a Kurdish city, a minority in Iraq, and has been struggling for its independence for generations. Kirkuk is an Arabic city that is still ripe with violence from years of war. We brought these two groups together and taught them to choreograph a dance work about their challenges, misconceptions, fears, joys, and their hopes for a safer Iraq.
After returning to the US I am faced with the possibility of taking a Marine fire team, trained in art, back to Iraq to conduct a workshop for Iraqi youth.