Susan Hess’s Choreographers Bring an Eclectic Mix to Final “In Performance” Showing

Photo by Bonnie Friel

On Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2, at 8:00 p.m., Susan Hess Modern Dance (SHMD) showcases the development and variety of its exceptional 2011-2012 Choreographers Project (CP) artists in their final “In Performance”presentation of separate original works and group improvisation.

The choreography of Bronwen MacArthur, Gabrielle Revlock and Raphael Xavier returns to the stage at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street in Philadelphia, where the residents rehearsed and presented over their two years in the CP. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for dance professionals, students with ID, and senior citizens.

Gabrielle Revlock, a native Philadelphian and “gifted comedian” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2010), will screen her 2012 collaboration with Bonnie Friel, turn out, turn up, a film commissioned by the online dance film festival Dances Made to Order. She will also show new explorations in her choreography.

Called “dazzling” by the Boston Globe and “magical” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2011 Ellen Forman Memorial Award winner Bronwen MacArthur will perform a solo based in material she has developed over the year.

Award-winning Wilmington, Delaware native Raphael Xavier, credited for the resurrection and growth of Philadelphia’s Breaking community, has set a piece called Wonderful World on dancer Leanne Grieger for the performance.

Revlock, MacArthur and Grieger close the “In Performance” showing with Scrambled Eggs, a group improvisation highlighting their collegiality while challenging their on-the-spot creativity.

The CP residents have engaged in an intense year of artistic development. MacArthur’s company Macarthur Dance Project celebrated its five-year anniversary October 19-21 in the Point of Departure mini-festival at Christ Church in Old City, Philadelphia, where MacArthur premiered her work Ask the Painted Ladies. Revlock was selected as a SCUBA Touring Network artist for 2012 and has recently been awarded a LAB Fellowship in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Xavier, who has been developing his Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance with guidance from distinguished performance artist Ralph Lemon, is producing it this fall with support from an NEFA National Dance Project grant.

Artistic Director Susan Hess expresses delight at these choreographers’ growth. She also felt it important to return to the Performance Garage for their final CP performance, as the venue has been a critical part of SHMD programming over the past two years.

Hess encourages audiences to stay for conversation with the artists after each performance, to ask questions about what they have seen and share their responses to the works.

“The Choreographer Project is an essential resource for Philly choreographers,” says Revlock. The residency engages three to four choreographers for one to three years, providing rehearsal space, performance opportunities and developmental guidance.

With a 32-year history of assisting dancers, choreographers and performance artists in their career development, Susan Hess Modern Dance continues to play a leading role in bringing challenging, innovative and entertaining works in dance to local audiences. The 2011-2012 Choreographers Project has received support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Suzanne F. Roberts Cultural Development Fund and SHMD’s Board of Directors.


Bronwen MacArthur danced as a freelance artist with New York- and Copenhagen-based companies, including those of Bill Young, Donna Uchizono and Tim Feldmann. With these and others MacArthur has performed and taught throughout Europe, the United States and South America. She formed MacArthur Dance Project (MDP) in 2007, and her choreography has been performed in New York City, New England, Philadelphia, Russia, France and Scotland. MacArthur is on faculty at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.

Gabrielle Revlock received a 2010 Rocky Award and a 2011 finalist prize from the A.W.A.R.D. Show for her dance I made this for you. Her work has been shown across the United States by presenters including ODC (San Francisco), the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, Joyce SoHo (New York), Dance Place (Washington, D.C.), Philadelphia Dance Projects, Velocity Dance Center (Seattle) and the Korzo Theater (The Hague, The Netherlands). Bryn Mawr College and Vassar College have commissioned her works. As a dancer, she was a company member of Jeanne Ruddy Dance for nine years and has worked with many choreographers, including Isabelle Chaffaud and Jérôme Meyer (The Netherlands), Sean Feldman (United Kingdom), Willi Dorner (Austria) and Katsura Kan (Japan).

Raphael Xavier is credited for the resurrection and the growth of the Breaking community in Philadelphia from 1996 to the present day. A member of the world-renowned Hip-Hop dance company Rennie Harris Puremovement since 1998, he is also a Pennsylvania Fellow of the Arts in Folk and Traditional Forms. He has been a professional breaker/dancer for the last 15 years, working in a variety of fields including music, photography and film. Xavier continues to learn and create new ways to expand the vocabulary of the dance form through constant research of the culture, performance and practice, staying present in the community. His work is based in the tradition of Hip-Hop culture, moving in and out of reality and imagination.

“In Performance: The 2011-12 Choreographers Project” runs Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street in Philadelphia. For more information, visit

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