Barbara Hayley

Dancing to a New Beat: 3 Choreographers + 3 Composers = The Art of Jazz                       

Marigny Opera Ballet is busy prepping three world premiere productions that combine the control of ballet with the freewheeling improvisation of jazz performed by well-known live jazz trios.
David Hurlbert and the award winning Marigny Opera Ballet have teamed choreographers Diogo de Lima, Nikki Hefko and Barbara Hayley with composers Helen Gillet, Larry Sieberth and Nutria (Byron Asher, Trey Boudreaux and Shawn Myers) for The Art of Jazz, a triple-threat evening of original dance and music.
Performances are scheduled for Thursday Feb. 9th, Friday Feb. 10th, and Sunday Feb. 12th (No Saturday performance). Tickets $35/$25 (students and seniors) are available at
Q&A: The Art of Jazz 
Meet Barbara Hayley, one of three choreographers featured in the Marigny Opera ballet production.
What are some of the challenges of integrating the discipline of ballet with the  improvisational nature of jazz?
No challenges.  This is a modern dance piece with wonderful dancers who have the facility to shift between improvisational, technical, and expressive ways of moving. 
What choreographers inspired your work on The Art of Jazz? 
Not a choreographer, but director Akira Kurosawa’s text for a painting he created for the crows sequence from Dreams, 1990: ”A human is a genius while dreaming.  Fearless and brave, like a genius.”
If you have a creative bucket list, what are some of things on it?
        Continued collaboration with composers.
        More community-based expression.
How collaborative was your work on The Art of Jazz?
The dancers and I made the piece together.  They contributed their artistry and movement from beginning to end.   Larry Sieberth, the composer, and I met from the very beginning. He attended exploratory rehearsals last August and was completely engaged and supportive of my work and the work of the dancers.
What kind of story are you are telling in The Art of Jazz?
No story.  It is not linear or narrative.   Audience members may come away with a different ‘story’ or response.  All are valid.  
What’s on your personal playlist?
        Alabama Shakes
        Sergio Cervett
What can you tell us about your dancers? Are they new to Marigny Opera Ballet? 
They are beautifully trained in classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and musical theatre techniques AND the art of choreography.  They bring all that they know to rehearsal and dance full out all the time.  Two in “Dance of the Dreamers” are new this season.  Maya Taylor, rehearsal director for Marigny Opera Ballet is essential and is the consistent through line for the company. 
A Deeper Dive:  Barbara Hayley
Choreographer, teacher and former dancer
Barbara Hayley has been Artistic Director of New Orleans Dance (NOD) since 1987. This modern dance repertory company of local dance artists has merited Classical Arts Awards
for modern dance production and choreography for 12 years.  Today, NOD is a project based company. 
Ms. Hayley was awarded the Community Arts Award (formerly Mayor’s Arts Award) in 2009.  She is a choreographer for site-specific, community-based, and concert dance venues. 
She is a professor with Tulane’s Newcomb Dance Program, Department of Theatre and Dance and dance coordinator.  
Before moving to New Orleans, she received her MFA from NYU Tisch School for the Arts, worked with a variety of choreographers, and directed Barbara Hayley & Dancers in NYC.