Susan Hess’ upbeat end to 30-year run on Sansom


By Merilyn Jackson For The Inquirer

After 30 years at 2030 Sansom St., Susan Hess Modern Dance Studios presented its final concert there Sunday night. But instead of a wake, it was a celebration of the far-reaching dance legacy shaped in that space. Former Philly dancer Steve Krieckhaus came in from St. Louis to honor Hess, and so – surprise! – did famed global choreographer Lucinda Childs, whose spectacular 1979 Dance will have its Philadelphia premiere at this fall’s LiveArts Festival.Krieckhaus was one of many who went on to success through Hess’ 26-year-old Choreographers Project (others include Rennie Harris and Eric Schoefer). And Childs participated in Hess’ Masters Exchange series, also begun in 1984, which brought in dance icons including Deborah Hay and Daniel Nagrin.

The evening, despite bittersweet moments, was upbeat. As Krieckhaus said during the closing honors, “After all, Susan is not dying.” Indeed, Hess told me earlier that she’d received funding from Dance Advance to move her two signature projects to choreographer Jeanne Ruddy’s Performance Garage on Brandywine Street next season.

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