This sensational Aussie is FFB’s first foreigner! : ) Nick has an incredible sense of the mind-body connection which no doubt propelled him into his amazing, steady career on stage. Nick’s grateful spirit emphasizes his confidence both as a performer and a person.
Nick is FIT FOR BROADWAY!
BIOGRAPHY: My name is Nicholas Louis Saeed Cunningham, (the arabic name is because my parents got married in the United Arab Emirates, at the British Embassy), I am 29 years old, an Aries and I am a dancer by trade, performer by life. I started dancing at 13 years of age, reason being I wanted to be a professional ballroom dancer, then I wanted to be in Riverdance, then I ended up going to a tap class, and the rest is pretty much history. I started training full time at 16 and the Queensland Dance School of Excellence in Brisbane, and graduated in 2002. I moved to Perth in 2003 to study at WAAPA, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and advanced straight to second year and completed my degree in two years instead of three before moving to Paris to begin work at the Moulin Rouge. All while doing this I travelled back and forth to London and other places around Europe as I love adventure and making the most of being in different parts of the world and always learning about culture. Come 2005 I moved to London to debut on West End in my first show, Movin’ Out, which closed in six weeks. As one does, they pick them self up and move on, auditioning for everything under the sun I landed one of the most amazing contracts of my life, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. It was an international tour and travelled all around the world including my home land, Australia. Sooner after I booked a contract which would change my life, La Cage aux Folles. From West End to Broadway, Olivier’s to Tony’s, Radio City to Bryant Park, Tours, Awards, and life changing events, this show gave me my dream and much more. I went through many hoops and eventually got my Green Card where I am known as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability, and after living in New York for two years I booked my second Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera. Coming out of that I did a tour of Romeo and Juliet around Europe and saw many wonderful places, came back to New York to join the Phantom company for the second time, and in my first week back her in New York thinking I was going to stay put for a while, I was asked by Matthew Bourne if I would consider joining his international tour or Swan Lake, for the second time. I didn’t take one second of thought and said YES, so after that stream of good fortune I will be taking off for another whirl wind tour come the 11th of August, and after that who knows!
I am forever grateful for this life I’ve been given and will continue to work hard at what I’ve got and hopefully the universe will continue giving me back what I believe so deeply in, and that is performing. Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Live and love as hard as you know how.
- I played the Piano classically for 10 years, before giving it up to study dance full time.
- I am obsessed with Latin Ballroom Dance, but never taken a class in my life.
- I’m a huge (crazy) fan of Mariah Carey. I won’t go into details. But just know I have every album, single, foreign album, and dvd she has ever released. Yet I’ve a fear of seeing her in person because I am afraid of what will happen to me.
- I love British humor, I tend to steer towards anything that is really dry, over the top and often misunderstood.
- I actually CAN lick my elbow. So those lists that say you can’t, well they’ve not met me.
Q: What is the most physically challenging part of performing?
A: Repetition. I always find that repeating the same movement eight times a week is very difficult. You have to consistently work on making sure that you are keeping you body in prime condition outside of your show so that you don’t risk getting a repetitive injury. This can absolutely happen in long running shows. I make sure that every other day I’m doing a full body workout to make sure that I keep a good balance in my physical form, mostly to prevent any unexpected strains, pulls, or injuries.
Q: How would you describe your fitness routine?
A: Well I would have to describe it as completely individual. Or even independent. I don’t follow, fads, or special regimes created by certain people, that are sworn by. I make sure that I get the best possible work out for myself by creating a workout, for myself. I don’t feel like it’s productive to hit the gym with the idea that you HAVE to do this, or you HAVE to do that, because I find for myself that it becomes counterproductive and I become unmotivated doing the same exercises week in and week out. I also think that keeping a very open mind to new things, finding new types of exercise is great, changing your personal work out regularly can be fun and create a really good setting for you to work out in. I also think a happy work out is a good work out. If you are enjoying yourself things seem to be easier and you work your body harder giving you better results. If you are told you have to do this or that sometimes your mental outlook works against you and you can become negative, which can make for a disappointing work out. It’s a fact that everyone is different and unique in their own ways, so why restrict yourself to only one way of working out? I say variety is the key to keep you motivated and well balanced.
Q: How do you keep your voice healthy?
A: As I am primarily a dancer first and singer/actor second, I have my own methods, some may probably cringe and others may not. But I always say hydration is the key. As I perform eight shows a week and I’m dancing a lot, I find that heavy breathing through the mouth can dry the vocal chords very fast which makes it difficult and at times slightly painful to sing, especially if you are dancing amongst, scenic smoke (which can be a silent killer), old buildings, dusty costumes, the list goes on. But when you are dancing with all or some of these environmental problems, you have to keep drinking water to flush the dust and whatever else can make your voice dry and raspy. Difficult at times but make sure you always have a water bottle on hand. I tend to carry one with me all the time, and sip it through out the day. My other method would be concerning, lung capacity and breath support. When dancing, you exert so much energy with your body and breathing that you have to find the extra support to sing as well. If you don’t have the stamina to do both you can find yourself straining with out the proper support. What helps me most when doing cardio is to add sprints to your cardio to increase lung capacity, I also do this while running out doors. I even hum along to my music, sometimes going into full belt, yes… I am one of those people… But let me tell you it sure helps belting those top notes when you are out of breath in the 11 o’clock number!
Q: Do you follow a specific diet?
A: No. I eat healthy, and I don’t consider eating healthfully as a specific diet. I think it should come naturally and you should watch what you put into your body as it is your instrument of work. We have to remember that what we have is what we use to have a life and career. So we must be kind to it and make sure that what goes in our bodies is good. I of course have my days of eating what I want, everyone does. But as long as you aren’t eating like that every day of the week then that is what is good. It’s all about balance and moderation.
Q: What is your favorite energy-boosting snack/meal?
A: I really enjoy fresh orange juice, hard boiled eggs or bananas, not together, obviously. I boil my eggs in a cooker from Cuisinart (go out and buy one they are a life saver) some times up to eight at a time so have them ready to go when ever I want. Orange juice is always good to have for a natural energy boost, also I love the taste. I never eat sweets for an energy boost as it always spikes, and you crash quickly. Fruit on the other hand with all it’s natural goodness will release those sugars over a much longer arch and you’ll find it easier to produce work that way, bananas I find are the best for that result.
Q: What is your favorite late night snack after performances?
A: I find it difficult to snack at night as this is mostly the time when performers have their dinner, as the show has drained them from the late lunch. Some people have different daily regimes but I have dinner after my show. Never a heavy dinner. I love fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, some times red meat, I steer away from carbs at night (leave that for your first meal of the day) and generally just stick to eating things that don’t make me feel heavy as I will soon after, two or three hours after be going to bed.
Q: What is your best advice/strategies to fight fatigue?
A: Sleep. That is the easiest and most obvious answer. But it is the easiest and most simple to accomplish. You have to be good to your bodies, and get as much rest as you possibly can. I try and get 8 to 9 hours a night. There are so many theories on how and where and this and that about sleeping, but I find that everyone will find their own way to get a good nights sleep.
Q: What is your best advice for stage confidence?
A: I think it starts simply by feeling good about yourself. Looking after yourself and feeling confident within your own soul. I am a very spiritual person and have been through many trials and tribulations in my life, but you have to be a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Let every thing happen in life don’t fight it and work with what you’ve been given, sometimes you could even use those experiences on stage, it can really help with the choices you make. A daily practice of learning to love yourself is a very strong way to make yourself feel confident. If you truly believe in yourself and love your own being for who you are that will resonate throughout your performance (and personal life) and really effect others around you in a positive and powerful way.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: It’s as simple as this. My Mother. As cliche as it sounds, she is one of the most powerful, strong and inspiring people in my life. I could have never got to where I am today without her belief and her life stories and her knowledge. I am incredibly lucky to have her in my life as the wisdom and candid honest approach to life will truly stick with me till I depart this earth. I am always grateful to learn from her behavior and the way she reacts in certain situations, and I am forever amazed at how resilient of a person she is.
Q: How does your physical fitness affect your performance abilities?
A: In every possible way. I think especially as we use our bodies to emote everything we do it’s extremely important to be sensitive to the fact that this is the body that we have been given and we must take care of it day in day out, with what ever rituals you are committed to.
Q: Tips on finding the time to stay physically/vocally fit?
A: I have my own quote I stand by. “Focus, Balance and Perspective”, if you stick by these things you will always have time to keep everything at top condition and be able to work at your fullest.
Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: Passion, if you don’t have passion for this business, you will never go far. You must have a hunger for this industry because it is the most brutal in the world. We must protect our inner souls from rejections and constant criticisms, and learn to roll with the punches. Because if you don’t have a backbone of steel you will not get through one day. Like I said before, practice the daily love for yourself, focus on what you want, keep that balance between all aspects of your life, and step back every now and then and look at the perspective or what is really in the picture, the BIG picture. With that I feel you will be on your way to booking that Broadway show!