Stephen Galloway’s Got The Moves (Just Ask Miley)

After excelling at dance and design, the choreographer is bringing his singular talents to music and film



PHOTO: Andreina Restrepo @PIANPIANPIAN.


The evocative L.A. skyline, the YSL costume changes, and that pool: The video for Miley Cyrus’ Grammy Award–winning song “Flowers” is memorable for many reasons, but it’s the way she moves so rhythmically, intentionally, and powerfully from frame to frame that really stands out. It’s the work of choreographer Stephen Galloway, so it’s no wonder Cyrus told him, “You’re never leaving; do you know that?”

Galloway has that effect on people. That’s the simplest way to explain how a former principal dancer for Ballet Frankfurt (with an 18-year tenure under the influential William Forsythe) has enjoyed such a multifaceted career, including two decades as a creative consultant and choreographer for the Rolling Stones and a seven-year stint as art director for Japanese designer Issey Miyake in the 1990s.

“People find it difficult to believe it’s possible to lead or create an organic evolution of a career,” says Galloway, who relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 after 30 years in Frankfurt, where he segued from dance into costume design. “They feel there must be some degree of hustle. I am the truest representation of that not being the case. Being in the right place at the right time is how I’ve lived my entire career.”

Today Galloway, who was born in Tennessee but grew up in Pennsylvania before moving to Germany at 17 on a scholarship, is in serious demand as a “creative movement director.” It’s a title he created when he started collaborating with Dutch fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Naomi Campbell channeling Diana Ross on the cover of W magazine? Lady Gaga’s writhing movements in Tom Ford’s viral “Soul Train” runway show? Both the result of Galloway’s gift for storytelling through movement.

“We’d be shooting a hair commercial and someone would be like, ‘Why do we need a choreographer?’ Inez would be like, ‘Wait until you meet Stephen Galloway.’ That’s how the whole thing began,” he explains. “I joke that we should have copyrighted it. Almost every agency now has a form of creative movement director.”


I don’t necessarily view my work as achievements because they are part of me and what I am doing.


Miley Cyrus paying tribute to Tina Turner with a performance of “Flowers” at the 2024 Grammys. “I had opportunities to work with so many other music acts, but I kind of think I was waiting to work with Miley,” says Galloway. PHOTO: Sonja Fleming/CBS via Getty Images.


Galloway first gravitated toward L.A. when his aunt Melba, who lived here, was nearing the end of her life. Initially he moved into a high-rise apartment at Hollywood Proper Residences; he has since purchased “the most beautiful house I will never leave” in Hancock Park. “The city has been incredible to me, I think, because I didn’t set out to do anything but live here,” he says. Galloway travels frequently to New York and Europe for work and spends his downtime in L.A. watching old-school British period dramas like Foyle’s War and Rumpole of the Bailey on BritBox. “I feel like I know everyone and no one at the same time.”

Where does he get inspiration? “From the loneliness that is around every corner if you are able to see it,” he muses. That, and a certain luxury grocery store. “I contribute diligently to the budget of Erewhon,” he says, laughing. “I love these little keto chocolate bites that cost $20 for four. It’s like, ‘You’re eating all four at the same time.’ ‘Yeah, but it’s keto!’ ”

As for the future, Galloway is, predictably, buzzing with ideas. He would like to publish a book about his unconventional journey, but for now film feels like the logical next step. “I’m looking forward to expanding into film and motion in a more directorial way,” he hints. “Everything seems to be leading in that direction for me.” Not that it’s a goal, as such. Galloway, after all, doesn’t work like that. “I don’t know if it’s an ambition more than the next evolution,” he says.

For someone who has helped create some of the most iconic images in fashion photography and some of the most iconic performances (hello, Miley’s recent tribute to Tina Turner at the Grammys), what does Galloway consider his great achievement?

“I don’t necessarily view my work as achievements because they are parts of me and what I’m doing. They are not for me to celebrate — they are wholeheartedly given to other people to celebrate for me,” he says with a smile. “But I think my greatest achievements are possibly still to come.”


JAMIE DORNAN wears BRUNELLO CUCINELLI jacket, sweater, and pants.


Feature image: PHOTO: Marc Hom/Trunk Archive.


This story originally appeared in the Spring Men’s Edition 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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