Melanie Stewart’s brainchild turns 6

By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
“Dance-driven” nEW Festival opens.

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Good dance just keeps sweeping into Philadelphia – and sweeping us off our feet (or onto them; see below). This week it’s the nEW Festival, Melanie Stewart’s now-six-year-old brainchild. What began as an artists’ cooperative with workshops and classes for dancers at the University of the Arts has grown into a self-described “dance-driven, artist-fueled,” two-week-long festival featuring five evenings of performances starting tomorrow at the Drake Theater.

Stewart, artistic director and founder of Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre, has been dancing and producing dance in Philadelphia, nationally and abroad since 1984. In the course of her career, the Rowan University professor and coordinator of Rowan’s dance program has received many awards, among them a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Local audiences may remember her for her 1995 Cocktail in the Sky or her hilarious 1998 Kieko and Fan, with Paule Turner, which airs from time to time on WHYY.

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