Stephen Galloway: Creative Movement Director

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Stephen Galloway
Stephen GallowayPhotography by Joe Hume

Insiders meets the creative whirlwind behind Inez and Vinoodh's shoots and Mick Jagger's show moves

There’s a moment that comes on every project the celebrated dancer, choreographer and ‘creative movement director’ Stephen Galloway is working on – whether it be editorials with Kate Moss or Gisele, a cover story for Dazed & Confused with the new musical sensation FKA Twigs or on Bjork’s recent album cover for Vulnicura – where he enters what he affectionately calls, ‘The Zone.’ “Someone showed me a video of myself recently during a shoot and I looked absolutely ridiculous,” laughs Galloway, who despite being a commanding presence at 6"4' is prone to frequent and infectious giggles. “But that’s when I’m at my happiest – when I’m able to walk out of a studio slightly exhausted, but at the same time relieved that we’ve been able to make something kind of special.”

Galloway is the go-to guy when Mick Jagger needs an expert to advise on his stage routine or Inez and Vinoodh need a choreographer to coax their models into poses for campaigns for the likes of Gucci, Miu Miu or Saint Laurent. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Galloway graduated from putting on fashion shows in his backyard to cultivating a love of dance at his local cultural dance centre. After winning an arts grant in the mid-eighties, the classically trained Galloway won a place at the prestigious, experimental Ballet Frankfurt, becoming the youngest dancer to be accepted there at the age of 17. Over the next 25 years, Galloway would rise to the rank of principal dancer, under the inspiring tutelage of company director, William Forsythe – whom he credits for his ever-expanding extra-curriculum that currently includes costume designer, opera director, musician and creative consultant. “It’s a very natural thing for me; it’s just the way I am,” he explains. “There’s something magical about dancers I think,” he muses. “Regardless of all the different things that I do, I will always consider myself a dancer. When I’m in that studio, no matter how long I’ve been away, I still have an immediate relationship which never leaves.”

On being the ‘third brain’ to Inez and Vinoodh
Galloway’s first introduction to the world of fashion was a meeting with the emerging photographic duo, Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin in Paris (he shudders at the memory, “I was so embarrassing because I’m sure I was trying to throw all my fashion references which I knew in their face cause I was such a huge fan of theirs!”) This then led to them inviting him to work on their 2002 reboot of the Calvin Klein campaign with Joe McKenna, M/M Paris and the models, Jessica Miller and Travis Fimmel – a shoot that is still one of his favourites today. He explains, “They were just looking for a different physical language for Jessica. Initially I didn’t know how to achieve it so it was like an investigation. Even today, the simplest, most mundane thing like doing a fashion shoot for a magazine, I always ask lots of questions, it’s still an investigation.”

Since then, he has gone on to be the ‘third brain’ to Inez and Vinoodh, working across the spectrum of magazine editorials for Vogue, W and V and advertising campaigns. Working with the rarefied likes of Naomi Campbell, Raquel Zimmerman, Anja Rubik and Christy Turlington to help elevate their movements; Galloway sees a drive for perfectionism similar to his own. “They’re just really smart girls – they’re there to get the job done. The quality I think that we share is the desire to be the best. It’s not about wasting time. Because you’ve got to get in there and you’ve got to do this so fiercely and so incredibly well then it’s going to be finished and you’re going to do something else.” Quickly establishing chemistry on set with these supers is a mysterious process akin to alchemy: “That’s a question I never really want to answer. Not in terms of giving secrets away - it’s a very alive thing, it changes every day. It’s about being present.”

Moves Like Jagger
Parallel to his expanding fashion portfolio, Galloway was recruited to become creative advisor to The Rolling Stones in 1997, following an introduction from a friend at The Royal Ballet. “It’s funny because Mick never saw me dance before, but only after I started working with him” recalls Galloway. “I was in the middle of all these different projects and I was the star dancer for the Ballet Frankfurt at the time. I knew who they were but I’d never done anything like that before. I was curious to do it.” Released by Forsythe to work with The Stones, Galloway went on to work on their globe-spanning Bridge to Babylon and Bigger Bang tours and their videos over the next 15 years, even if his actual title remained vague. He shrugs, “Hey, I’m an extra luxurious cost but I’m worth every single fucking penny.”

“Hey, I’m an extra luxurious cost but I’m worth every single fucking penny" — Stephen Galloway

Catching up with Galloway is no mean feat, as he continues to criss-cross the world, between Frankfurt, California and New York, putting finishing touches to an opera, shooting cover stories and investigating his new passion for film. “I’m living all over the place and it’s fabulous. I love it and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I feel very lucky because no matter where I land, there’s very seldom a situation where I don’t have something to do or someone to meet. That keeps it kind of honest.” Oscillating between the worlds of fashion, rock n’roll, dance and theatre still provides a jolt of adrenaline for Galloway after all these years. “I wake up every day and I realise I’m living a really wonderful life – it’s all really good right now. But there’s still so much fucking work to do and that’s the thing- I close my eyes at night and I’m like Jesus Christ’s there’s still so much to do. There’s so much to do, and I’m very happy.”