Since 1980, Susan Hess Modern Dance (SHMD) has sought to grow the audience for contemporary dance and support independent dance artists in the Philadelphia community. The company has supported residencies for over 40 artists through their Choreographers Project, which provides space, performance opportunities, and evaluations from others in the field, all of which allow an artist the luxury of time and the proper resources to fully develop a work. SHMD also offers the Masters Exchange, a forum of learning and sharing led by established choreographers and artists with local and emerging talent. In 2014 there will be a Masters Exchange held in conjunction with the company's upcoming Center funded project, bb/he and dg/together again, a partnership with choreographer David Gordon to re-envision his work, Uncivil Wars: Moving with Brecht & Eisler (2009).
New York choreographer David Gordon—a founding artist of the Judson Dance Theater, New York's influential experimental company from the 1960s— worked with Susan Hess Modern Dance to re-envision his dance theater work Uncivil Wars: Moving with Brecht & Eisler (2009). Uncivil Wars is based on Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler's legendary play Roundheads and Pointheads, which was first produced in 1936. Of Gordon's subversive aesthetic and trademark unpredictability, dance critic Suzanne Carbonneau writes, "Gordon is not interested in conforming to ideas of what he should be doing [...] rather, his interests lie in expanding ideas about what performance can be." Susan Hess Modern Dance collaborated with Gordon's Pick Up Performance Co(S.) to find cast members for the Philadelphia production in 2014. Concurrent with this process, Gordon led a series of open rehearsals participated in a session with local choreographers about their work. Theater critic and translator of the version of Roundheads and Pointheads on which Gordon based his work led a presentation at the conclusion of the final open rehearsal.