His choreography was rooted in modern and jazz dancing, which demanded precise technique from the performers, The New York Times said. An impassioned teacher, Nicks used a number of technical influences in his instruction, including Katherine Dunham, Jose Limon, Robert Joffrey, Karel Shook, Louis Horst and Doris Humphrey.
Nicks danced with the Benny Goodman Jazz Revue in 1948-49 and in 1953 formed El Ballet Negro de Walter Nicks in Mexico. He also performed in clubs and on television in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
In New York, he taught at the Phillips-Fort Studio and played a role in the city's black modern dance renaissance in the 1950s. He also choreographed several Harry Belafonte television specials.
Nicks, who died Tuesday, was honored for his teaching by the American Dance Festival in 2000. He also was recognized in 2002 by the International Association of Blacks in Dance for his contributions.