April 11-17, 2002
It seems entirely appropriate that Susan Hess Modern Dance be the first dance presentation in the Kimmel Center's little Innovation Studio, the black-box theater downstairs. This is a flexible, small, performing gallery, no stage, seating arranged as performers prefer -- few even know our grand arts palace has this useful subterranean venue. Hess has been providing rehearsal-performance space and encouragement to modern-dance innovators for 18 years -- her very name is synonymous with the best in local dance experimentation. Mostly she's done that in her no-frills Center City dance studio. The Kimmel is definitely a grander setting, even at basement level, and Hess says with a laugh, "We're the first crazy dance people to perform there, but we're thrilled to have a place to perform that gets us past the studio into a theater setting." The 10 Philadelphia choreographers she's presenting are all alumni or current participants of her Master's Exchange, a program that supports select choreographers and brings them together with notable choreographers who critique and mentor the process of creating a dance. What we'll see over a period of two nights are the fruits of this intense enterprise of several years. Some of the choreographer-dancers are well-known locally from the Fringe, DanceBoom! and CEC performances -- and every one of them has extensive dance experience. The first evening brings Myra Bazell, Heather Murphy, Josie Smith, Darla Stanley and Leah Stein to the Kimmel -- a list that includes some of the most intriguing choreographers in the city. But the same can be said for the second night, which brings Karen Carlson, Roko Kawai, Brenda Kunda, Gin MacCallum and Eric Schoefer. Some of these people's work will filter upstairs eventually. But we can see it downstairs right now.
Susan Hess Modern Dance presents In Performance, Fri.-Sat., April 12-13, 8 p.m., $12, Kimmel Center Innovation Studio, Broad and Spruce Sts., 215-665-9060, www.kimmelcenter.org.