A Marine’s Voice Being Heard from the Dance Stage

village_voiceThere are many voices of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. One that caught my ear today is from Marine Sergeant Roman Baca.

His story, as told to  Jonathan Wei, is featured in the Village Voice. It’s about Baca’s life as a ballet dancer turned Marine combatant and how ballet brought him back after a tour in Iraq.

Here’s how he described a confrontation with his girlfriend who sat him down six months after he returned from deployment in Fallujah:

And she’s like, “You’re not OK. I don’t like the person you are.” She said I was anxious, I was depressed, I was angry. I was mean. I had some episodes when I was driving on the freeway, and traffic was getting bad. I wanted to ram into other cars.

That was part of the standard operating procedure when you were dealing with other cars in Iraq. You take care of the situation.

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VETERAN OF THE STAGE: Roman Baca in Manhattan, February, 2013. Photo Credit: Sam Zide.

What brought Baca back from continually reliving his tour in Iraq was to put those experiences into dance. He and his girlfriend, now wife, created a dance company and choreographed works based in part on his life as a Marine.

Our first work was a piece called Habibi Hhaloua, which is an Arabic phrase that I learned as meaning you have my eyes, or when I look at you, all I see is you. The Iraqi people are very passionate people, and they have ways of saying things that we compartmentalize into “I love you.”

He composed other ballet works titled Homecoming and Conflicted.

And after being awarded a fellowship with The Mission Continues, Baca went back to Iraq. This time he was armed not with an M-16 but with “dance clothes and a 95-pound female dancer from New York City.”

You can read the full story about Roman Baca and how his return trip to Iraq went in the Village Voice.

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