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).
With a history of over 30 years of serving dancers, choreographers, and performance artists in development of their movement practice, Susan Hess Modern Dance (SHMD) hosted Bessie Award winner Ralph Lemon in a weeklong Masters Exchange residency, investigating choreographic process with the three participant artists of the 2010–11 Choreographers Project. A prolific dance artist and the recipient of an inaugural United States Artists Fellowship in 2006, Lemon's career crosses genres and intercultural interests. He has also developed a significant body of writing and has a strong record of multidisciplinary collaboration. SHMD invited the public to view a select number of the sessions with Lemon to get a glimpse of the choreographic process at work.