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Leading Through Black Excellence by APSU: Marcus Hayes


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Marcus Hayes is a professor of dance and African American Studies at Austin Peay State University (APSU).

He received a dual Bachelor of Arts in history and theater arts-dance from Beloit College in Wisconsin and a Master of Fine Arts in dance from Mills College in California.

Austin Peay State University Department of Theatre and Dance chair Marcus Hayes. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Department of Theatre and Dance chair Marcus Hayes. (APSU)

Previous guest teaching appointments include the Alabama Dance Festival, the Panoply Choreography Competition, the Tennessee Association of Dance and the City Youth Ballet. Hayes served as an adjudicator for the Panoply Choreography Competition and the Distinguished Young Women scholarship program (formerly Junior Miss).

Since joining the APSU faculty in Fall 2006, Hayes has engaged in over 50 university and department-specific service roles, including associate dean for the College of Arts and Letters. In addition to his current role as chair of the Department of Theater and Dance, he is the chair of the University’s Diversity Committee and Coordinator for the African American Studies program. Hayes also makes time to serve student organizations, as faculty advisor to the African Caribbean Association and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

His discipline-specific contributions include serving as past president of the Tennessee Association of Dance Board of Directors and regional director for the American College Dance Association (ACDA) National Board of Directors. Hayes’ commitment to academic excellence and service has earned him multiple nominations, including the Maxine Smith Fellows Program, APSU Research Mentor Award, APSU National Alumni Association Distinguished Professor (for which he was nominated twice), the Excellence in Academic Advising Award and the APSU Helping Hands Award for assisting non-traditional students in 2012 and 2018.

Hayes’ scholarship and creative activities are also noteworthy. At APSU, he focuses on dance techniques, dance history and choreography, as well as the African influences on social dances in the Americas. His research interests include identity politics in performance, formal issues in choreography, site-specific choreography and dramaturgy for dance. Additionally, his focus on African Diasporic Dance traditions resulted in travel, ethnographic research and study of the West African influences on the folk dances of Latin America, specifically Cumbia, Colombian Salsa and Mapalé (Colombia), Tango (Argentina and Uruguay) and Merengue and Bachata (Dominican Republic). Marcus has participated in more than 25 panels, presentations and invited lectures, and over the course of his professional career, he’s collected more than $50,000 in internal/external grant funding supporting creative arts programming. Hayes’ vast knowledge of dance afforded him the opportunity to author the textbook, Introduction to Dance: A Guide for Understanding Dance as an Art Form, which is available through Great River Learning at



Hayes’ performing, professional choreography and directing experience date to the early 90s, and since that time, he has partnered with noteworthy performers to include Molissa Fenley, Liz Lerman, Dr. Ruth Little, June Watanabe, Anne Westwick, Chris Johnson, Margaret Rennerfeldt, and Dr. Jin-Wen Yu. Hayes participated in The Creative Gesture: Dramaturgy for Dance program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Calgary. He performed and choreographed professionally with the Without Shoes Modern Dance Company and taught dance for the Chicago Park District, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Rockford College, and the school for the Rockford Dance Company. Additionally, Hayes was commissioned to create new work for Beloit College, Lambuth University, and Northeast High School.

Hayes is beloved by his colleagues and is regarded as a sustaining force to the university. He is a significant and irreplaceable asset to the campus community and is devoted to creating an inclusive environment that promotes healing and wellness through creativity and the arts. Please join him in attending the upcoming event, Healing through Hip Hop, with Dr. Adia Winfrey, in collaboration with Austin Peay State University’s Department of Music and Center of Excellence for Creative Arts on February 9th. 


Leading Through Black Excellence is a new Black History Month series, presented by the Austin Peay State University African American Employee Council. Throughout February, we will highlight examples of “Leading Through Black Excellence,” both on and off our campus. Individuals and organizations were nominated, and we are pleased to share their incredible stories through this new venture. For more information, please visit our website.




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