Veteran who survived coronavirus now on front lines of helping others through power of dance

Román F. Baca II, a veteran and artist, survived a terrifying two week bout of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic this spring in the Bronx section of New York City.

Now, he’s back to work helping others. The Artistic Director and President of Exit12 Dance Company is on the move. He is constantly building a support base and business for his art that seeks to inspire military veterans, victims of war, and civilians through the power of dance.

Román F. Baca II, a veteran and artist, survived a terrifying two week bout of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic this spring in the Bronx section of New York City. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

Román F. Baca II, a veteran and artist, survived a terrifying two week bout of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic this spring in the Bronx section of New York City. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

He told Fox News: “In some cases, I joined the military to face my fears.  I thought that the Marines would teach me to not be afraid. When in reality, it taught me to fight fear aggressively, to keep moving and move beyond it.  When I went back to dance, and started choreographing, a different sort of fear emerged — the fear of being vulnerable, about putting my work on stage for people to see. Like the marines taught, I leaned into it. I got to the point where I was so used to feeling that fear that my work was raw, honest, and vulnerable that if that feeling wasn’t present, I felt the work needed more attention.”

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More importantly, his work now is rooted in the current crisis of the time.

Exit12 Dance Company seeks to inspire military veterans, victims of war, and civilians through the power of dance. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

Exit12 Dance Company seeks to inspire military veterans, victims of war, and civilians through the power of dance. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

“We are heading to New Woodstock, NY in August for a one-week artistic residency,” Baca said. “During the week of the residency Exit12 will engage in in-person and virtual creative workshops with a roster of accomplished civilian and veteran artists to engage with the following research questions: what is the impact of fatherhood on the veteran experience, from father to son/daughter veteran, or father veteran to son/daughter; how can we connect veterans and dancers virtually to create a new artistic experience; what new work can be generated from work by prominent veteran artists; what are new challenges regarding your experience during this time including (COVID-19).”

He explained: “Movement research will be conducted through daily movement explorations, virtual meetings with veteran artists, site specific movement sessions, and group sharing sessions.”

The Marine who served in the Iraq War as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Fallujah calls Exit12 military veteran art.

The Marine who served in the Iraq War as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Fallujah calls Exit12 military veteran art. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

The Marine who served in the Iraq War as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Fallujah calls Exit12 military veteran art. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

“I joined theMarines because I wanted to fight for those that could not fight for themselves, and to be of service to others. When we were deployed to Fallujah, that call to duty and service was tested. At times we didn’t know who the enemy was, or how to be of significant help to the local villagers.  My unit did its best with the tools we had while we were there,” he told Fox News. “That experience, and seeing the impact that war has had on so many, not only my fellow veterans, but on people around the world, has solidified the call again for service, but this time I strive to do it without a weapon, with art, in the direction of global understanding and peace.”

He told Fox News this spring found him at one of his lowest points.

“COVID-19 was one of the scariest times I have lived through. I was so scared the first night of symptoms, I could not sleep. I was worried that I would give it to my wife, our housemates, our friends. I was scared that I would be admitted into the hospital and wouldn’t be able to contact anyone.  The worst day of symptoms, I made sure that my wife had all my passwords in case I had to be admitted. Then I remembered the other thing that the marines taught me about being afraid, that I wasn’t alone. So I started reaching out to others, like my wife and best friend, for support and advice.  Their support got me through it,” Baca said.

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Exit12 Dance Company now is rooted in the current crisis of the time. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

Exit12 Dance Company now is rooted in the current crisis of the time. (Courtesy of Román F. Baca II)

He said giving in to the world gets him through life, its ups and downs, his work and his legacy.

“It took me a long time to learn to ask for help, and accept help. I had to do it in the marines, and it stuck. Now it’s what drives me. Getting people to work together to create a great piece of art that connects with others, it’s incredible.”

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