Born in Brisbane, 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 the Sydney based, internationally acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre and has developed a signature body of works that have become milestones in Australian performing arts. Stephen continues to reinvent Indigenous story-telling both within Bangarra and through collaborations with other performing arts companies, most notably directing the Indigenous sections for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as Artistic Director of the 2004 Adelaide Festival of the Arts, writing and directing BLOODLAND with Wayne Blair and Kathy Balngayngu Marika for Sydney Theatre Company in association with Bangarra.


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. He choreographed the feature films BRAN NUE DAE (2009) and THE SAPPHIRES (2011). In 2008 Stephen was named New South Wales Australian of the Year in recognition of his efforts to bring cultures together. In 2010 Stephen was honoured at the Australian Dance Awards for his Services to Dance and in 2012 received the NAIDOC Award for Artist of the Year. In 2014 Stephen choreographed Bangarra’s highly acclaimed work Patyegarang, celebrating Bangarra’s 25th anniversary. 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 and curated Bangarra’s new work lore.