Ballet helps veterans heal war wounds with dance

“For My Father” is a ballet that depicts the impact a young war veteran’s suicide has on his father and family. But for choreographer Taylor Gordon, it’s a very personal piece of art, based on the death of her younger brother, Afghanistan war veteran Nick Gordon, who took his life in 2016.

“It was important to me in creating the piece to make it accessible to not just my family, but to make it a little more broadly appealing so that all military families or even just general families dealing with losing a loved one or having someone go away for a long time, that kind of loss. I wanted that to be relatable,” Gordon said. 

“For My Father,” which premiered on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, is the latest work from the Exit 12 Dance Company which was founded by Iraq War veteran Roman Baca to help himself and other veterans deal with the trauma of their experiences. 

“The dance and the acting was allowing me to psychologically and physically put down the stuff I was avoiding for all those years,” said Exit 12 dancer Bruce Robertson Smith, who plays the father in the production.

“The reactions and feedback from the audience has been extremely motivating in that they know that after seeing the piece that more people need to see this work,” Baca said.

Taylor Gordon sat down with FOX 5 NY to talk more about the production, her brother and how Exit 12’s work helps not just veterans but family members of veterans as well.