World’s Strangest

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A Marine’s Return to Ballet

Roman Baca became a ballet dancer after high school. Since male dancers are in the minority, he found plenty of work, but not the full-time position he hoped for. So Baca joined the Marines and was sent to patrol Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005. When he returned, he couldn’t find satisfaction in a desk job.

My then-girlfriend, now my wife, sat me down and challenged me to make a change: “If you could do anything, what would you do?”

I wanted to be part of a dance company.

So I choreographed a duet for two women in the neo-classical style, and sent it to competitions for feedback. It was rejected, but I wasn’t surprised. I felt like I was forcing creativity instead of creating something that I cared about. So I turned the duet into a four-movement work called Habibi Hhaloua (Arabic for my beautiful, you have my eyes) about a Marine on patrol, and sent it out.

Over time, Baca developed a program to combine dance with veteran’s services.

We started performing in festivals and showcases in and around New York City and within a few months we had a name and a mission, Exit12 Dance Company, an organization to advocate and educate through performance on behalf of a new generation of veterans.

He now holds workshops for veterans and schoolchildren in both the U.S. and Iraq. Read more about Baca and his mission at The Daily Beast. There’s a dance video included. Link

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August 7th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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