Born in Brisbane, Stephen is a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from SE Queensland.
In 1991 Stephen was appointed Artistic Director of Bangarra and has built a strong reputation touring throughout Australia and the world, including New York, Washington, Paris, London and Germany. Memorable works Ochres, Skin (‘Best New Australian Work’ and ‘Best Dance Work’, 2001 Helpmann Awards), Bush (‘Best Dance Work’, 2004 Helpmann Awards), Mathinna (‘Best Dance Work’ and ‘Best Choreography’, 2009 Helpmann Awards) have become milestones in Australian performing arts.
For The Australian Ballet, Stephen has choreographed Rites to Stravinsky’s score incorporating dancers from Bangarra and he directed the Indigenous sections for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. As Artistic Director of the 2004 Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Stephen was praised for reinvigorating the event with an impressive and highly successful world-class program. Stephen’s film and theatre credits include the contemporary operatic film Black River, numerous music video clips, directing his brother David Page in the highly acclaimed production Page 8 which toured Australia and the UK and choreography for the feature films Bran Nue Dae (2009) and The Sapphires (2011).
In 2008 Stephen was named NSW Australian of the Year in recognition of his efforts to bring cultures together through the performing arts and his commitment to developing the next generation of Indigenous storytellers by mentoring emerging artists.
Bangarra celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009 with Fire – A Retrospective presenting the signature works of Bangarra’s repertoire. For this celebration Stephen invited over one hundred artists who had worked with Bangarra, including the founders of the company, to a special performance of Fire – A Retrospective at the Sydney Opera House. Stephen received the 2010 Helpmann Award for ‘Best Choreography’ for Fire – A Retrospective and a further two awards for the company; Best Ballet/Dance Work for Fire – A Retrospective and Best Regional Touring Production for True Stories. Stephen was honoured at the Australian Dance Awards for his Services to Dance and accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by a Company for Fire – A Retrospective. Stephen commissioned and mentored Frances Rings and Daniel Riley in their new works for Bangarra’s program of earth & sky.
In 2011, his 20th year as Artistic Director, Stephen choreographed ID, (Belong) and developed the concept of Bloodland in collaboration with Wayne Blair and Kathy Balngayngu Marika, directing the production for Sydney Theatre Company. In celebration of The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary in 2012, Stephen was invited to create a new work Warumuk – in the dark night bringing together dancers from the Ballet and Bangarra, performed in Melbourne, Sydney and New York. Stephen made his directorial debut in 2012, directing the chapter Sand in the feature film The Turning and was Artistic Associate for Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Secret River as part of the Sydney Festival. That same year Stephen received the NAIDOC Award for Artist of the Year and won a Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in a Dance or Physical Theatre work for ID (Belong).
In 2013 Stephen choreographed Blak with dancer/choreographer Daniel Riley, commissioned Dance Clan 3, a new work choreographed by Bangarra’s women featuring in the inaugural Corroboree Sydney and accepted the Australian Arts in Asia Award – Dance, for Bangarra’s 2012/13 tour to Mongolia, Vietnam and Thailand with Spirit.
In 2014 Stephen choreographed Bangarra’s acclaimed new work Patyegarang. This production celebrated Bangarra’s 25th anniversary and was seen by over 36,000 people nationally, making it Bangarra’s most successful season yet. That same year, Stephen led the company’s largest ever regional tour, performing in regional centres and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over nine weeks.
In 2015 Stephen was awarded a Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts by the University of Technology Sydney for his contribution to the arts and Indigenous culture. He also directed his first full-length film Spear (based on the production of the same name from the Skin double bill in 2000) which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at various arts festivals around Australia in early 2016.
In 2016, Stephen celebrates his 25th year as Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre. He will choreograph his 23rd work for the company, a new work for the triple bill OUR land people stories which will premiere in June 2016 at the Sydney Opera House.