Michelle Heffner Hayes holds a PhD in Critical Dance Studies from UC-Riverside. She is a professor of Theatre & Dance at the University of Kansas, where she teaches modern dance, improvisation, choreography, dance studies, arts administration, and flamenco. An artist-scholar, Hayes performed as a flamenco choreographer and soloist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in Palos Nuevos: The Jazz Flamenco Project, 2018. Her book Flamenco: Conflicting Histories of the Dance (2009) uses feminist and postcolonial theory to analyze constructions of gender, race and sexuality in representations of flamenco. Other publications include Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives (2015), co-edited with K. Meira Goldberg and Ninotchka Bennahum; “Lo que queda/That which remains: Dancing Bodies, Historical Erasure and Cultural Transmission,” in The Body, The Dance, the Text: Essays on Performance and the Margins of History (2019), edited by Brynn Shiovitz; and “Grafting and Other Ramifications: Improvisation in the Liberal Arts and Sciences,” co-authored with Sherrie Tucker, in Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critique en improvisation, in press (2019).
Hayes also served as the Executive Director of Cultural Affairs at Miami Dade College from 1999-2006, where she curated and managed a multidisciplinary performance and commissioning series devoted to contemporary and culturally specific work that is reflective of Miami's multiethnic community. She was one of the original producers of the danceAble festival in Miami, FL, an annual event that brough international participants together in a series of movement workshops and performances of “integrated” or “mixed ability” dance. She was the Artistic Director of the Colorado Dance Festival from 1997-1999, where she curated a performance and education series that concentrated on the dances of the African Diaspora. In over 15 years of experience as a performing arts administrator, she has been involved in creating new models for national arts education and audience development, as well as infrastructure development for international cultural exchange.