Stephen is a Nunukal/Ngugi Man of Qandamooka Peoples and Munaldjali Man of Yugambeh Nation. 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 First Peoples storytelling within Bangarra and through collaborations with other performing arts companies. He directed the Indigenous sections for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies and created a significant dance work for his dad’s People, the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation, as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. Stephen has choreographed over 27 works for Bangarra. His most recent works include the Helpmann Award winning work Bennelong in 2017 and the work Dark Emu in 2018, choreographed together with former Bangarra dancers Daniel Riley and Yolande Brown, and which went on to become one of the most successful productions in the history of Bangarra.
Stephen’s first full-length film SPEAR premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at various arts festivals around Australia in early 2016. He has also co-directed and choreographed the documentary FREEMAN (2020), directed the chapter Sand in the feature film The Turning (2013), and choreographed the feature films Bran Nue Dae (2009) and The Sapphires (2011).
In 2015 Stephen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts by the University of Technology Sydney. In 2016, he received both the NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award and JC Williamson Award. 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).