Meaning Through Movement with Piper Morgan Hayes
By Claire Heronemus ’17
Piper Hayes is an Adjunct Dance Professor at Carthage College. She studied dance at Duke University and went on to pursue her Masters at Hollins University. She has presented several dance pieces in shows throughout her years here at Carthage, both through her choreography and performances. Hayes has graciously agreed to offer up some answers about herself and her work.
How did you get into Dance?
I was registered for a summer school rhythm and movement class at one of our local elementary schools in southern Wisconsin. I was probably in the second grade.
When did you decide that you wanted to teach dance to college students?
After training at a high caliber dance conservatory to receive a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance and finishing a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, I wanted to serve my roots and expose others to the potentiality inside of dance, which in turn, translates to life. I wanted to return to a familiar space and place where the people, items, and energies reside and resonate in my blood. The continued goal is to bring Conservatory-driven theories and concepts to an area of the nation that has yet to see such a facility or abundance in pedagogical approaches. The act of teaching dance to college students exists as just one extension of myself as a human, dancer, choreographer and artist.
What is your role in the Carthage Dance Department and in, specifically, this show?
I’m an Adjunct Professor of Dance meaning I teach several dance courses each year at Carthage College. This fall term, I’m teaching Jazz and Modern. As a faculty member, I am asked about my interest in choreographing for the fall dance production during the preceding summer months. For the Vanishing Point production, I’ll be premiering a new choreographic work created with four students, a few props, and a storyline that surrounds my life and experiences. In addition, I will be introducing a piece at Carthage College that originally premiered as my Thesis Dance Presentation held at Duke University in Durham, NC, in the July heat (2013). The work was created largely at Hollins University (where I studied and received my MFA) and throughout random locations in Wisconsin and my mind. The latter work involves intricate lighting and a parachute.
What do you want the production of Vanishing Point to convey to the audience?
Dance is expansive, unique, and can exist within the nooks-and-crannies of our world. Location as well as resources cannot limit or box-in the art and act of dance. Dance is not ‘universal.’ In any regard, I am interested in the moment in which movement and perception meet to draw an interest and urgency in the act of watching, gazing, studying and dreaming.
Do you prefer choreographing or performing? What are the main differences between the two?
I am a performer. I am a choreographer. I am human. I cannot separate the two because I am the same individual in all three settings/acts. Choreographing is a human puzzle game. Choreographing can cause one to question their worth and intelligence of movement abilities, interests, and purpose. However, I am a “poke-and-prodder-er.” I am fortunate to live in an area of the world where I am not prosecuted or harmed for the practice of my art. I’d rather use this opportunity/platform to SAY something through movement—sometimes boldly/abrasively ….POKE… POKE. While choreographing is full of day-to-day challenges, it also presents moments of breakthrough and pats-on-the-back. I am very comfortable with being seen, therefore, performing is a mixture of excitable nerves and honor in the ability to show my expression, purpose, and meaning through movement.
IT IS ACCEPTABLE/GOOD TO BE SEEN. IT IS ACCEPTABLE/GOOD TO BE HEARD.
I AM WORTHY (as are all).
Are you excited to be presenting your own solo performance during Vanishing Point?
I am excited. It will be a beautiful homecoming. We have all danced this solo before–it started at conception and continues to this very day.
Do you have advice for someone who wants to choreograph or become a dance teacher?
A suggestion will be that you must be willing and driven in the act of continuous study and refinement. A single dance course does not provide the means to be able to accurately and safely instruct to others. One must breathe, sleep, feel, hear, smell, taste, live, love, see, submit, conquer, deconstruct, construct, scratch, whip, slam, and drag the art of dance throughout your pursuit and interest of its study. There is no break. There should never be a break.
ROOT YOURSELF INSIDE (THE) DANCE. Expose yourself to the greatest artists (dance and otherwise), READ BOOKS, watch, ask questions, test it out, cry, admit that failure is a “positive” rather than a “negative,” challenge the theories/ideas of ‘universal,’ ‘normal,’ ‘right,’ ‘wrong,’ ‘up,’ ‘down,’ ‘dark,’ ‘light,’ and safety.’
Ask yourself, “How far do/did I push myself?” “What am I looking for/to?” “What is my potentiality WITHOUT limits?”
Are you willing to accept dance as your partner? For life? For better and worse? Richer and poorer?
If there is any moment of trepidation/concern in your pursuit of dance (specifically), consider a different path. Take the fork in the road–and even if you do, dance will never escape you. It is always present.
Constantly check the intention behind your use and presentation of dance. If you are seeking popularity in the form of another’s perception/gaze/view of your body, it may be wise to reevaluate. The body holds more value/intelligence/worth than existing as a mere vehicle of sexual representation.
Unashamedly, I believe ‘it,’ is never “enough.” (whatever ‘it’ is…)
Friday, Dec. 9 & Saturday, Dec. 10 — 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 11 — 3 p.m.
Adults: $14, Seniors (55+): $10, *Students: $8
Tickets can be purchased online at carthage.edu/tickets. You may also call 262-551-6661 Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
*Carthage students, faculty, and staff receive two complimentary tickets. Tickets are available at the Fine Arts Box Office only; I.D. required. For more details, please visit carthage.edu/fine-arts/box-office. For non-Carthage students, the student ticket rate is available for students in elementary school through college/university, with a valid school ID.
If you have any questions, please contact the Fine Arts Box Office at 262-551-6661or firstname.lastname@example.org.