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Aleta Hayes
Lecturer, Contemporary Dance and Performance, Stanford Dance

Aleta Hayes is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, performer, and teacher. Before her appointment at Stanford, Ms. Hayes taught for eight years at Princeton University in the Program in Theater and Dance and the Program in African American Studies. While at Princeton, Ms. Hayes developed pedagogically innovative courses that combined cultural and performance history, theory, and performance. She has also taught at Wesleyan University, Swarthmore College, and Rutgers University. Ms. Hayes holds an M.F.A. in Dance and Choreography from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A., with Departmental Honors, in Drama, Dance and the Visual Arts from Stanford University (1991). 
Aleta Hayes lived and worked in New York City for fifteen years, choreographing solo and group dance pieces, in which her performances often interpolated acting and singing. Highlights include: Hatsheput, presented at the Place Theater, London and St. Marks Church, New York; Tarantantara, presented at Jacob’s Pillow; and La Chanteuse Nubienne (written by playwright Daniel Alexander Jones), performed for Movement Research at Judson Church. Ms. Hayes collaborated, as choreographer and dance/vocal soloist, with the poet Yusef Komunyakaa and composer William Banfield, on Ish-Scoodah, a chamber opera with dance about the nineteenth century African American sculptor, Edmonia Lewis. She also had leading roles in major works by other artists such as Jane Comfort (the trip-hop dance/opera Asphalt, with a book by Carl Hancock Rux) and Robert Wilson (the operaThe Temptation of St Anthony, with gospel and other African American spiritual music forms and libretto by Bernice Johnson Reagon). Ms. Hayes has continued to perform in the subsequent international presentations of The Temptation of St Anthony. 

In 2004, Ms. Hayes returned to Stanford on a Ford Foundation Resident Dialogues Fellowship through the Committee on Black Performing Arts, for which she created The Wedding Project, a performance piece of multiple genres illustrating the evolution of American social dance through the narrative of African American wedding traditions. She extended this "theater of mixed forms" (the critic Anna Kisselgoff’s term) into community dialogue when she was a 2005 Peninsula Community Foundation Artist-in-Residence at Eastside Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. That residence culminated in The ReMix Project, where she collaborated with students to create and perform a montage of music, monologue, and movement examining student aspirations in a low-income, racially-mixed neighborhood.  

Since 2005, Ms. Hayes has had many leading roles as a dancer, singer and actor including, most notably: Suzan-Lori Park’s In the Blood, directed by Prof. Harry Elam, (2005): In the spring of 2006, she choreographed, danced, spoke, and sang a multimedia solo piece, Deianeira (an adoption of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis) created for Ms. Hayes and directed by Drama and Classics Professor Rush Rehm: She created a solo piece, Califia, which developed out of an residency at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program (2007), and a Stanford Humanities Lab Grant/Fellowship (2006) in collaboration with CCRMA-Center for Computer Music and Acoustics (involving human computer interaction): She wrote, sang, acted, and co-directed an original work in the Stanford Drama Department based on T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland titled, Wasteland in Black and White (2009).

The Chocolate Heads Movement Band, founded by Hayes in 2009 to the present, is a platform for performers of many genres. The troupe’s name is a descriptor for a “movement driven band” comprised of dancers, musicians, visual artists, performance poets and writers—referencing both dance and social movement as motivating forces for the work. In 2011, the Chocolate Heads were invited to perform at STAN: Society, Technology, Art and Nature—a prototype TED X talk at Stanford University.

Hayes’ latest dance-music performance installation, ‘Singing the Rooms-Performance of the Everyday’, is a collaboration with New York based composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist, Cooper Moore—a dramatic song cycle to be performed by her and collaborators in different domesticated spaces.