Many artists called to the field of dance start very early in life, developing an itch for movement and expression through dance that seems to get under their skin. For Nick Phillips, dancing was already in his blood but his desire to dance didn’t boil right away.
Phillips’ mother is a former principal of The Australian Ballet where his father was also a company member. His aunt and uncle, too, are internationally recognized professional ballet dancers. Despite this affiliation, Phillips, who was a Junior Tae Kwon Do champion in his native Australia, did not begin dancing until he was 11 years old when he switched from martial arts to breakdancing.
“Basically, as an 11 year old I just really wanted to spin on my head,” says Phillips of his interest in the acrobatic aspects of his early dance experience.
Neither he or his parents realized a burning desire to dance was lying dormant and that Phillips would eventually, at age 18, begin auditioning and pursuing full-time technical training in jazz, contemporary, and yes, ballet. Once he set his sights on his career in dance, however, Phillips had the full support of his parents for whom he has gained a great deal of respect and who continue to inspire him.
Coming from a hip-hop background, Phillips had to push and train hard to get his technique to a professional level but he realized this versatility would be the key to booking work as a dancer. Fortunately, this focus paid off and as his confidence took flight, so did Phillips’ career.
Phillips has become a stand-out in Australia’s fashion, corporate, stage and television markets, featuring as a dancer on popular TV shows like Australia’s Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars Australia. So impressed was he with Phillips’ talents and versatility that Simon Lind, resident choreographer for Australia’s Got Talent, made certain over his 3-year tenure that Phillips appeared as a regular dancer on the series.
“[Phillips] continued to not only perform stunningly but his dependability in all styles and genres made him my go to dancer every time I worked with him,” says Lind.
In fact, over and over again, colleagues cite Phillips’ ability to learn quickly and master any style of dance as one of his primary strengths as a dancer. Leading Australian choreographer and dance judge, Jason Coleman describes a time Phillips stepped into a leading role, learning everything he needed to perform within 24 hours.
“This would normally throw many dancers off guard,” remembers Coleman, “but Nick was not fazed by the challenge and took it on like a true professional, making it look like he’d known the show for months.”
Phillips recently took his precision, professionalism, and versatility to the stage in a role that calls on not only his dancing but acting ability. Phillips considers his performance on stage working directly with Oscar-winning actress Hayley Mills on the play Legends, which toured Australia in 2015, the highlight of his already extraordinary career.
“Working on Legends was much different as I had a role to play as opposed to performing in an ensemble. The role of Boom Boom Johnson was very specific– it required me to dance, flip, act, beatbox and rap pretty much all at once,” Phillips recalls.
For Phillips, the challenge and the feedback are all part of the thrill of live performance, something that has drawn him into the dance world from his beginnings as a breakdancing kid with ballet in his veins.
“Knowing your hard work has paid off and feeling an audience enjoy what you are presenting to them,” says Phillips, “is an incredible feeling.”