Stephen Petronio was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 20, 1956. He grew up in Nutley, New Jersey and received a B.A. degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began dancing in 1974. Prior to pursuing a career in dance, Petronio studied pre-medicine before being inspired by the dancing of Rudolf Nureyev and Steve Paxton, with whom he studied contact improvisation. Petronio became the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Company (1979 to 1986), and founded Stephen Petronio Company in 1984. He has gone on to build a unique and powerful language of movement in a career that spans over 25 years. Stephen Petronio Company has toured extensively across the United States and to 26 other countries throughout the world, with over 35 New York City engagements including 15 seasons at The Joyce Theater.
Petronio has worked with songwriters, musicians, and composers, including Rufus Wainwright (Bud, 2005, Bud Suite, 2006, and BLOOM, 2006), Laurie Anderson (City of Twist, 2002), Lou Reed (The Island of Misfit Toys, 2004), Michael Nyman (Strange Attractors, 1999), James Lavelle (Strange Attractors II, 2000), Wire (MiddleSexGorge, 1990), Diamanda Galás (#4, 1997), Sheila Chandra (Not Garden, 1999), Lenny Pickett (#3, 1986), Nick Cave (Underland, 2003), Fischerspooner (Beauty and the Brut, 2008), Jonny Greenwood (Ghostown, 2010), Ryan Lott (Tragic/Love,2009 and Singing Light, 2010), Nico Muhly (I Drink the Air Before Me, 2009), David Linton (numerous works, 1986–2001), Yoko Ono, his cousin Clams Casino (Locomotor, 2014) and the Beastie Boys.Stephen Petronio Company Repertory
He regularly collaborates with visual artists, including Cindy Sherman (The Island of Misfit Toys and The King is Dead, 1994), Anish Kapoor (Strange Attractors II), Donald Baechler (Extravenous and A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, 1997), Stephen Hannock (Not Garden, 1999), and Charles Atlas (Wrong Wrong, 1990), as well as fashion designers Benjamin Cho, Rachel Roy, Tara Subkoff/Imitation of Christ, Leigh Bowery, Tanya Sarne/Ghost, Paul Compitus, Michael Angel, Tony Cohen, Adam Kimmel, Jillian Lewis, and Manolo.
Stephen Petronio Company's resident lighting designer and long-time collaborator is Ken Tabachnick.
Petronio has been commissioned to create new works for numerous companies, including National Dance Company Wales, Ballet de Lorraine, William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt (1987), the Tulsa Opera (1990), the Deutsche Opera Berlin (1992), the Lyon Opera Ballet (1994), the Maggio Danza Florence (1996), and the Ricochet Dance Company of London (1998)
Stephen Petronio received a 1999 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. Petronio received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988, fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1985 and 2004, the first of the American Choreographer Awards in 1987, and a New York Dance & Performance Award (Bessie) in 1986. He has been awarded choreography fellowships from the NEA from 1985 to 1988, and company grants from the NEA, like the Advancement Program Grant in 1994. He also received the New York State Council on the Arts consecutively since 1988. In 2007 Petronio was inducted into the Nutley, New Jersey Hall of Fame.
- Bremser, Martha. "Stephen Petronio." Fifty Contemporary Choreographers. London [u.a.: Routledge, 1999. 189-92. Print.]
- "Stephen Petronio | Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive." Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive | Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/dance/stephen-petronio?ref=artist>.
- "Choreographer - CDC Repertoire." UW Departments Web Server. Web. 18 Oct. 2011. <http://depts.washington.edu/uwdance/cdc/archive/repertoire.php?t=chor>.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2010.