- Family Background:
- Born in Brisbane, Stephen is a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from SE Queensland.
Stephen is a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland. In 1991, Stephen was appointed Artistic Director of Bangarra and has developed a signature body of works that have become milestones in Australian performing arts.
Stephen continues to reinvent Indigenous storytelling within Bangarra and through collaborations with other performing arts companies, notably directing the Indigenous sections for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies and creating a new dance work for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
In 2018, Stephen collaborated with Choreographers Daniel Riley and Yolande Brown to bring Dark Emu to the stage. Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book of the same name, Dark Emu was a dramatic and evocative dance response to what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always known, that their reciprocal and interconnected relationship with the environment is both sustainable and sacred.
In 2017, Stephen’s monumental work Bennelong received widespread acclaim from both audiences and critics alike. In 2016, he received both the 2016 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award and JC Williamson Award, and he premiered Nyapanyapa, his 23rd work for Bangarra, as part of the OUR land people stories triple bill.
In 2015, Stephen curated Bangarra’s new work lore, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts by the University of Technology Sydney. To celebrate Bangarra’s 25th anniversary in 2014, Stephen choreographed Patyegarang.
Stephen directed the chapter Sand in the feature film The Turning (2013) and was Artistic Associate for Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Secret River as part of Sydney Festival in 2013. He also choreographed the feature films Bran Nue Dae (2009) and The Sapphires (2011). His first full-length film SPEAR premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at various arts festivals around Australia in early 2016.
In 2017, Stephen was honoured with the Australia Council Dance Award for significant contributions to the cultural and artistic fabric of the nation, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
- 1993 - Paris Opera Screen award, Grand Prix for Black River (Film)
- 1997 - Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography
- 2001 - Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work & Best Dance Work, Skin
- 2002 - Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, Corroboree
- 2002 - Matilda Award for Contribution to the Arts in Queensland
- 2003 - Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, Individual Award
- 2004 - Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, Indigenous Individual
- 2008 - Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment, Mathinna
- 2009 - Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, Dance or Physical Theatre Production, Mathinna
- 2010 - Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance
- 2010 - Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in a Dance of Physical Theatre Production, Fire - A Retrospective
- 2012 - NAIDOC Award for NAIDOC Artist of the Year
- 2012 - Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, ID
- 2016 - Helpmann Award, JC Williamson Award®
- 2016 - NAIDOC Award, Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2017 - Australia Council Dance Award
- 2018 - Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, Bennelong
- 2018 - Helpmann Award for Best Dance Production, Bennelong
- 2018 - Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work, Bennelong