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).
Susan Hess Modern Dance (SHMD) engaged acclaimed modern choreographer Lucinda Childs and performing arts curator Simon Dove to mentor the resident choreographers of the SHMD Choreographers Project, as part of the Masters Exchange series. Established in 1984, the Choreographers Project has provided guidance and assistance for professional development in contemporary dance, as well as a collegial atmosphere for artistic exploration for Philadelphia dance artists. In 2001, the Masters Exchange was developed as a partner program bringing distinguished choreographers and interdisciplinary performance artists to mentor SHMD's resident choreographers and project alumni. During their residency, Childs and Dove offered extended, multi-day workshops with the choreographers, both individually and in a group setting.