Like many of us, Nicolas Fiery found himself unable to conduct his career during the pandemic. A dancer and choreographer of international acclaim, Covid 19 shut down all live performances across the planet for Nicolas and his peers. Passionate about keeping dance and his own creativity vibrant, Fiery accepted an offer from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to edit the dance company’s online season finale titled “Revelations Through the Decades.” Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing enlisted Fiery as an accomplished dancer whom has also displayed immense talent as a filmmaker through his documentary series World Dance Sessions. With the film and music industries adapting to the pandemic in order to persevere, dance proved its solidarity in the arts via productions like “Revelations Through the Decades.” Alvin Ailey’s remarkable career includes many of the highest distinctions including the Kennedy Center Honor (1988) and a Presidential Medal of Freedom; “Revelations Through the Decades” confirmed that even an unprecedented global event would not pause his ongoing contributions to the world.
Though he’s most often found dancing in front of enthusiastic audiences, Fiery’s work on his hugely successful and influential docuseries World Dance Sessions (for MUMOS) cultivated an awareness of him within the entertainment community as a dancer and insightful filmmaker. Matthew Rushing vision for “Revelations Through the Decades” necessitated someone with this exact artistic perspective. Comprised of footage that spans 1962-present day, “Revelations Through the Decades” is a celebration of the great Alvin Ailey as well as the progression of his lineage to modern day. Nicolas relates, “The most challenging part was definitely the compilation of two different versions of the choreography, not for the differences in the movements but for the music. The tracks did not have the same amount of beats per minute, which could take everything out of sync very easily and required a great amount of carefulness. I cannot count the amount of tiny tasks necessary for each little clip in post-production. If you did not know the music had changed over the years, you could not tell by watching this piece. It was our goal and surely the most challenging part of this experience.” It’s obvious that the keen sense of timing and movement of a dancer partnered with Fiery’s editing style is what allowed “Revelations Through the Decades” to achieve such a spectacular final form. His commitment to authenticity and a respectful presentation of Mr. Ailey’s dance work four over half a century manifested the fluidity necessary to properly honor a giant such as this. The intangible ingredient which was just as importantly present in Nicolas’s approach to this production is his intuitive ability to enhance the emotions that the dancers share on stage. He stipulates, “When I’m thinking back about the emotional parts of the film, I am first thinking about ‘Sinner Man.’ When this section starts, the dancers enter running across the stage with powerful facial expressions, and we chose to add more than three dancers to increase the emotional impact of this section. As Company Member Yannick Lebrun states, ‘Sinner Man is a very powerful section in the ballet of Revelations. It’s one of the pieces Alvin Ailey created that shows who we are as Ailey men—showing physicality and technique, but also emotional expression while really dancing and communicating with the audience.’”
Every moment of growth is accompanied by change. The past year or more has given the world time to reflect upon what type of good they can make of an uncomfortable, perhaps even life-altering situation. In “Revelations Through the Decades”, Nicolas Fiery found the ability to channel his strengths in an untypical situation for himself while eventually bringing the creativity he has always displayed as a dancer. With an open-mindedness, he helped honor a legend in a way that would have been less impactful had someone else filled the editing position. Pleased with the outcome, he reveals, “As an artist, having the opportunity to touch so many people with your creativity, during the ultimate days of 2020, was a real honor. What was incredible about this project is that it delivered to the Dance community the jubilant result of a collaboration that had never done before. On a very personal level, it was the very first time that I could see comments of my work from the shadows. Everyone who watched the performance and commented judged it on the artistic quality without being conscious of the editor. I really enjoyed reading the joy of people in words, the thankfulness of a lot of people for the premiere. It was very helpful to me as well at a time when I was very affected emotionally by the pandemic. I kept art alive and art helped me every day.”
Writer: Coleman Haan