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Michelle Heffner Hayes

Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance
Primary office:
Robinson Center, room 251B


Michelle Heffner Hayes joined the faculty of the Dance Division at KU in the Fall of 2006. As the Executive Director of Cultural Affairs at Miami Dade College from 1999-2006, she curated and managed a multidisciplinary performance and commissioning series devoted to contemporary and culturally specific work that is reflective of Miami's multi-ethnic community.

As the Artistic Director of the Colorado Dance Festival from 1997-99, she became an avid aficionado of tango, flamenco and baile popular . She commissioned or served as a marketplace advocate for the presentation of new work from companies like Costa Rica's Curubande Dance Theater and New York's Tango Mujer, an all-female tango company, as well as postmodern choreographers like Wally Cardona or hip hop phenomena Rennie Harris. She served on national and international funding panels for the Creative Work Fund, Creative Capital, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Arts International, the Joyce Foundation, Miami-Dade County, Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Dance Project, the US/Mexico Fund for Culture, the State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Pennsylvania Arts Council. She served for six years as a Board Member of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.

Heffner Hayes holds a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California-Riverside. From 1991-1996, she taught modern dance, composition and dance history at the University of California-Riverside; and aesthetics, philosophy and criticism at the University of California-Irvine. She performed with the postmodern dance companies of Susan Rose and Stephanie Gilliland and the flamenco company of Armando Neri; and choreographed solo and group works in both the postmodern and flamenco dance traditions. Heffner Hayes is a proud graduate of the KU dance program.

Publications by Heffner Hayes include scholarly reviews of contemporary flamenco studies (Dance Research Journal, 1996), parallels in postmodern dance improvisation and flamenco (Taken By Surprise: An Improvisational Reader, 2003), discussions of contemporary flamenco on film (dancing bodies living histories: New Writings on Dance and Culture, September 2000) and issues in cultural identity and dance (Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, 1998). Her book Flamenco: Conflicting Histories of the Dance was published by McFarland in 2009. Hayes received a 2009 Kansas Arts Commission Mid-Career Artist Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission. Her book chapter, "Flamenco: Music, Movement and Meaning," will be included in the 2012 edition of The Living Dance: Essays on Movement and Meaning by Kendall Hunt Publishing.