Best known for his 18-year tenure as the youngest principle dancer at Ballett Frankfurt – working under the guidance of his tutor, the legendary choreographer William Forsythe (Director of Ballett Frankfurt from 1984 - 2004 and Founder of the Forsythe Company) – Galloway’s CV boasts a plethora of other achievements, names and projects, in and outside of dance, that would otherwise seem suspiciously impressive.
Take for example being handpicked by Mick Jagger to work as a creative consultant for The Rolling Stones – a position he still holds, now going on for over twenty years. “Initially what we wanted to do was create a movement vocabulary that was specifically designed for him. I was given a responsibility to basically make Mick look more like Mick.” Or his five-year stand as Artistic Director for Issey Miyake – a role he was invited to take following a costume design collaboration for Ballett Frankfurt. Not to mention his award-winning and continued work as a freelance costume designer, producing pieces for ballets and theatres across the globe.
“Initially what we wanted to do was create a movement vocabulary that was specifically designed for him. I was given a responsibility to basically make Mick look more like Mick.”
He’s also been involved in uncountable projects with almost every fashion photography great – one standout name being Juergen Teller, though most notable is his long-term, ongoing collaborative relationship with the ever on-it Dutch photography duo Inez and Vinoodh. It doesn’t stop there though. Right now he’s also working on a photography book as well as trying his hand at experimenting with film – this time, mostly behind the camera.
“I’m basically just interested in exploring the physicality of fashion in movement, within a non-narrative situation. I’m still learning and just having fun with the camera; there’s no pressure and no real end game, I’m just enjoying working in the motion arena.”
To most, building such an oeuvre and being so active would suggest an unimaginable amount of dedication, hard work and sacrifice. It surprises then to hear that Galloway actually doesn’t consider himself having at all even come close to pushing his limits. On ambition, and what it is that drives him, he even goes so far as to point out that he’s not ambitious and has never been.
“I’m just trying to be the best Stephen Galloway that I can possibly be. And for me that means being involved in my interests; my interest in dance, in fashion, in film, in art, in music… It’s important for me to be a multi-layered artist because I’m just that person. I’m not trying to force myself on anything; it’s just me taking the next steps in my creativity. I really wish I could say that there is a drive, but it’s just me being me. I don’t know any other way to function.”
Galloway’s outlook reflects a deep self-awareness – a connection and relationship with himself that is entirely honest, felt and respected. It’s indicative of his admitted lifelong inner-dialogue – an ongoing self-confrontation that keeps him moving only in the direction he wants to go, despite not necessarily having any preconception of where or what that may lead to. It’s beautifully representative of ‘the dancer’s instinct’ – that ability to take what has been rigorously learnt and practiced, yet intuitively make it new, ultimately being magnificently free while still incredibly focused.
On embracing different environments, flowing and doing only what feels right, Galloway recently parted from New York to make Los Angeles his new home.
“I love New York but not so much anymore. Right now, for me it’s L.A. You can always feel the excitement in the city, and for now it’s where my dreams are. The whole creative community is super energized; the contemporary art world is currently out of control here. There’s been a whole rebirth recently, with a lot of artists moving away from New York because there’s so much space, there’s the light and they’re really making it popular to have a gallery and a studio here. I also think, with L.A. being such a one-industry city, if you’re doing anything else people are like ‘Oh my God, that’s fantastic!’ and that’s very encouraging. For me, right now, it’s just the perfect place to live.”
Make sure to keep an eye out for the launch of his book on dance photography – an avid collector of works by Robert Mappelthorpe, and considering Galloway’s own remarkable grasp of aesthetics, you can trust it will delight and inspire.
PHOTOGRAPHER MARC HOM | WORDS BY TYRONE ANDREY