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Melanie Stewart is a dance theater artist originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She received her B.A. in Dance at Webster College in 1974 before moving to the east coast to study in Philadelphia where she received her M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from Temple University in 1983. Her early influences came from intensive study with mentors: Ann Vachon and Hellmut Gottschild. Later, Melanie went on to study with Peter Clerke and Philippe Gaulier who helped hone her theatrical, highly visual, and visceral approach to dance making. Combining European physical theatre techniques with American Modern Dance, Melanie creates original movement based theatrical performances that act as mirrors to contemporary society. Her work pulls into focus the nuanced, weird, and vulnerable sides of the American culture. As a platform to support her original works for the concert stage, film/video, and education, Stewart founded the nonprofit organization Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre in 1983 and has been creating and producing her work nationally and abroad for over 30 years. Critically acclaimed as a choreographer, her awards include awards and fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through Dance Advance, and The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been a choreographer in residence at The American Dance Festival and Jacob Pillow's Winter Pillow in Philadelphia. Her work with European and American artists have spawned multiple dance theatre hybrid performances including; Lilith (1993), Killing Charity (1995), Cocktail in the Sky (1995), Claire (1996), The Messenger (1996), Perfect: A Bouffon Musical (1997), Underlife Cabaret (1998), Kieko and Fan (1998), Love After Death (2000), Hard Candy (2001),The Gathering (2003), Babel (2004), The Girl with Bees in Her Hair, (2005), A Simple Fact of Pain (2007), Kill Me Now, (2009) and multi disciplinary collaborative In My Body (2011). She was awarded a 2002 Survivor With Style Award and the 2003 Best Fringe Dance Venue from the Philadelphia City Paper for nEW Festival, a collective residency program that Stewart created to support emerging and mid-career dance artists. Melanie has received a 2003 New Forms Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the 2007 Leigh Gerdine Fine Arts Distinguished Alumna Award from Webster University. Recent touring projects include a solo adaptation of Deborah Hay's I'll Crane for You and the direction of Sticky for Da Da Dance Project which premiered at the Teatro de la Danza in Mexico City in 2012. She lives with her husband Tom and dog Kai in Pilesgrove, New Jersey and is a Professor of Dance and the Associate Dean of the College of Performing Arts Rowan University.