architecture // dance

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architecture // dance space





© 2017 Clark Nexsen All Rights Reserved


Clark Nexsen is a transdisciplinary architecture and engineering firm recognized for partnering with our clients to develop innovative design solutions. With 10 offices spanning Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, our people work to shape the future by discovering opportunities to transform the way we live in and experience our world. We believe that by providing exceptional design services and collaborating closely with our clients, we can deliver high-performing, sustainable projects. Today, the firm has more than 400 employees and a list of projects that covers the entire United States and more than 41 countries around the world. 4525 Main Street, Suite 1400, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 | 757.455.5800 |






collaboration a look into the collaboration between Clark Nexsen and The Brickell Academy Gifted Dance Education Program; the Academy’s pedagogy; Clark Nexsen’s design philosophy and interests; Brickell Academy faculty; Clark Nexsen designers


creation the translation of the given theme and architectural theories; iteration and design of tangible elements; ordering and fabrication of final elements; installation for performance at The Brickell Academy


use selected images from an improv performance with alumni dancers from the program on August 5th, 2017; quotes from dancers and audience members concerning their interaction with and perception of the elements


sources & acknowledgments a list of thanks and acknowledgments to those who have contributed to this project and have worked toward the continuation of the project over the past four years; credits to photographers that helped with the documentation of the process and performance


“What architecture needs is to be rekindled with the other arts somehow— to be inspired by poetry, music, and dance.” -Steven Holl




engage engage engage engage

In an exploration of the connections between form, movement, and the human experience of space, team members from Clark Nexsen collaborated with Brickell Academy’s Gifted Dance Education Program on a Dance Meets Architecture series. Brickell Academy is a unit within the arts magnet of Virginia Beach Public Schools. This series was motivated by three questions: Can architects learn something about architecture from dancers? Can dancers learn something about dance from architects? What else might they be able to learn from each other?

Seizing the opportunity to combine artistic passion with community involvement, the Clark Nexsen team of architects and interior designers engaged with students and faculty to develop architectural forms to be used by the students in choreography. The partnership entered its fourth year in May 2017, soon after the gifted dance education program made a move to the new Brickell Academy. This meant the dance program would have their own studios to practice in, a black box theatre, thousands of lighting options, and a theatre with a fly. Clark Nexsen wanted to take this opportunity to do something bigger than they were able to do before. The project was assigned to three architecture students interning at Clark Nexsen as their summer research project, allowing an even greater amount of time, energy, and funding.




brickell academy: gifted dance education

The mission of the Gifted Dance Education Program is to support, nurture, develop and enrich the full potential of the gifted student who learns kinesthetically, using focused, strategic study in all aspects of dance, utilizing gifted learning strategies and differentiated instruction. This specialized instruction prepares the students to successfully study in dance and non-dance related fields. The program serves third through eighth graders. Students attend the Dance Education program one full day each week. Students receive instruction in thematic units designed and presented by a teaching staff licensed to teach K-12 as outlined by the Virginia Department of Education and each instructor is endorsed in Gifted Education. This year’s theme

is Commonality and Diversity: Why do you dance? Dr. Hedrick, the principal of Brickell Academy, in cooperation with the Department of Teaching and Learning and the Office of Gifted Education and Academy Programs, administers the program. The Gifted Dance Education Program nurtures commitment, responsibility, self-motivation, artistry and personal achievement. The program’s curriculum has five areas of focus. These are: Technique, which focuses on the developmental skills related to dance/ movement and physical development that includes training in ballet, modern dance, jazz, trending styles and performance skills. Vital to this is the knowledge and application of information related to movement, such





as the use of the vocabularies of dance (dance elements, principles of design, anatomical vocabulary, Language of DanceÂŽ vocabulary, dance technique terminology and general dance terms). Second, Creative, which focuses on the development of divergent/innovative approaches towards expressing ideas and feelings through movement. As part of the process, students examine connections, possibilities and limitations while learning and integrating the use of collaborative tools. Movement exploration, improvisation, compositional and choreographic concepts, as well as artistic principles of design are used as integrative tools supporting comprehension of dance criticism. Dance criticism is describing, analyzing,

interpreting, and evaluating dance, as well as justifying responses to works. Third, Perspectives, which focuses on the historical, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and critical aspects of dance. Including explorations of dance past and present, enduring great dance works and cultural dance. This involves examining philosophies of dance, the universality of dance, the significance of dance and the nature of the artistic experience. Perspectives also include knowledge and application of anatomy, kinesiology, physics, nutrition, and wellness/overall health as related to the development of a dancer. Students will also be introduced to different career choices in the dance profession as well as how to translate dance processes and


tools into other subjects/areas. The dance students view and experience dance as a dancer, choreographer, producer, dance historian/anthropologist and dance critic. Real-life application of these roles gives students the tools to perceive, synthesize, respond, and evaluate dance expressing their aesthetic view in an informed manner. Fourth, Dance Performance, which focuses on Roles of the Discipline: Dancer, Choreographer, Producer, Designer, and Collaborator. All students participate in an in-depth performance unit focusing on the skills necessary for the performing artist in various roles. Students learn, rehearse, create, design for and perform works choreographed for them by their assigned dance professional, dance instructors and/or the students

themselves. The final concert is a fully developed theatrical performance open to the public. Students’ participation is mandatory as a component of their summative assessment. Finally, Cardio/ Nutrition (Wellness) which focuses on the physical development of the dancer as a whole being: the mind and body. All students participate in cardio for heart enrichment, then cardio specific work to develop stamina related to the work dancers will do and finally, cardio maintenance as in the mental and nutritional knowledge needed to design one’s own continuing plan. A plan that will support and empower dancers throughout their life/career.




Valerie Winborne Department Chair Modern, Hip-hop, Jazz, West African

Kimbra Cowan Dance Faculty Ballet, Jazz, Hip-hop

Dr. Mary Ann Laverty Dance Faculty Modern, World Dance Forms

Pamella Washburn Dance Faculty Ballet



Valerie Winborne has had an extensive, multi-faceted career as a dancer, choreographer, répétiteur, actor, dance movement therapist, educator and presenter. Winborne was named the National Dance Society’s Master Dance Educator in 2016 while serving on several advisory boards. Winborne teaches and chairs a Gifted Dance Education Program. Kimbra Cowan has a strong interest and knowledge of cardiovascular health and nutrition. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Old Dominion University and has her endorsement in Gifted Education from University of Virginia. Ms. Cowan has taught for the Virginia Beach Public Schools Gifted Dance Education Program for the past five years and teaches all genres of dance. Dr. Mary Ann Laverty is currently a dance specialist for Virginia Beach Gifted Dance Education Program and Adjunct at Old Dominion University and Thomas Nelson Community College. Prior to her current appointment, she was a full-time Assistant

Professor at Hampton University where she also directed the Community Children’s Dance Program. Aside from teaching the modern technique, Dr. Laverty has a strong interest in World dance forms. Pamella Washburn is the Ballet specialist for the Gifted Dance Education Program and has taught for Virginia Beach City Public Schools for the past fifteen years. She previously taught for the Governor’s School for the Arts and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from William Woods College where she taught for six years. She performed professionally with the Louisville Ballet Company.




clark nexsen

CLARK NEXSEN IS ENGAGED. We believe exceptional ideas are the result of collaboration between individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise, and we continuously strive to foster a culture of inquiry and innovation. The pursuit of design excellence is inherent in our vision to work together to discover, inspire, and shape ideas that transform our world. We believe that through engaging with our community, our culture and our profession, we can make a difference. This culture has resulted in high levels of design achievement, evidenced by our award-winning projects, published coverage, and the satisfaction of our clients. This recognition correlates closely with our design portfolio of award-winning work, including five recent AIA Virginia awards.

Continuing education is fundamental to advancing the design profession for both current and future professionals. Our team members regularly teach and mentor students at Hampton University, Old Dominion University, Duke University, NC State, and Virginia Tech. Additionally, we participate in high school STEM programs, provide shadow days to students, and collaborate with grade school students through the Brickell Academy Dance Program. Our summer research projects, conducted by student interns in collaboration with design leadership, have received award recognition for their exceptional quality, and we have also been the recipient of the National IDP Firm Award for Mentorship.





As design professionals, it is our social responsibility to advance our communities through design that enhances the human experience and sustains the environment. We actively promote participation in the community service on boards, commissions, and volunteering for non-profits. Our team members have collaborated to lead volunteer and fundraising efforts to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, raise money for the Chamber of Commerce, Operation Smile, United Way, JT Walk/ Camp Grom, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Food Bank of Virginia, American Cancer Society, Navy SEAL Foundation, and in protecting and restoring local wetlands. Additionally, the Clark Nexsen Foundation helps us focus our support of local charities and nonprofits. Since 2008, more than

$1.9M has been donated. We also support both Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University with the establishment of endowed scholarships in Clark Nexsen’s name. Our staying power within the architecture and engineering industry is self-evident. By placing our clients’ needs and priorities first and merging our design talent with their objectives, we deliver high-performing solutions that result in repeat business. The breadth and scope of our built work is extensive. From pro bono design to $200 million+ projects, we effectively serve a diverse client base by leveraging the strength of multiple disciplines to meet varied needs. The markets we serve include


higher education, federal, transportation, infrastructure, K-12, science + technology, industrial, commercial, and healthcare. Many of our client relationships have lasted decades, including our partnerships with Virginia Tech, UNC Chapel Hill, federal clients from NAVFAC to the USDA, NC State, Wake County School System, and Virginia State University, among others. Our relationship-focused, researchdriven, highly collaborative design process promotes the consistent application of design philosophy, approach, and quality throughout our work. Rather than approach each project with a preconceived notion or design ideal, we strive to develop the highest quality design possible that

responds to our client’s goals, budget, and preferences, and our portfolio reflects this diversity. Our track record of awardwinning projects across multiple markets reflects the consistent application of our approach, and our internal emphasis on high quality design, innovation, and the integration of technology ensures it won’t become stagnant. As a firm, we place a high priority on architectural design excellence and work together to investigate, challenge the status quo, and deliver exceptional built work.




Paul Battaglia Architecture Department Head Clark Nexsen

Julia Hager Summer Architecture Intern Virginia Tech

Alex Hochstetler Summer Architecture Intern Iowa State University

Elijah Muhammad Summer Architecture Intern University of Florida



Paul Battaglia is a designer with 20 years of experience, working as both a practitioner and an educator. He has experience with programming, project management, design and construction administration in federal DoD, corporate and higher education projects. He joined the firm as a senior architect in 2011, and was promoted to Architectural Department Head of the Virginia Beach office in 2014. As the head of the Virginia Beach architectural department, he collaborates with clients and project teams to provide innovative design solutions.

Julia Hager is a fourth year architecture student at Virginia Tech in the Undergraduate Architecture Program. She will be doing a bilateral exchange during the fall and spring semesters of her fourth year at the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio, Switzerland before completing her undergraduate degree with a thesis year at Virginia Tech. In her thesis, Julia would like to further study the positive effects of engaging with architectural objects when

students have an opportunity like they do with music, painting, and poetry. This was her second design-build project of the year and it has only made her more passionate about the practice.

Alex Hochstetler is a fifth year Bachelor of Architecture student at Iowa State University. His interests include architectural theory, visualization, and design-build. He is a Design Mentor and Study Abroad Ambassador at his university. He has worked as an Assistant Contractor and Architecture Intern.

Elijah Muhammad, a second year graduate student in University of Florida’s Architecture Program is the third Summer Intern who worked on the element. Once he finishes his graduate degree he plans to get into community based design by exploring how architecture affects society beyond the built environment and how architecture can be used to bring about social justice in our current time.




make make make make

The Gifted Dance Program rotates through seven themes. The theme provides a framework for the students/dancers to pose questions surrounding dance, which allows the teachers to delve into the other subjects the students are learning; english, history, science, and math. This year’s theme is Commonality and Diversity. This theme invites the question, “why do people dance?” and provides inclination for the students to delve into cultures and practices around the world, particularly, but not limited to, the scope of dance. This rotation of themes ensures that the students participating every year of their eligibility never repeat a theme.

It is then the role of Clark Nexsen to decide if and how the theme will manifest in the year’s elements. The summer architecture interns decided to look into the history of dance and precedent collaborations between dance companies and architects for inspiration, but ultimately the theme allowed the architecture interns to pose questions that led to a set of characteristics the elements should emulate. Those characteristics were used to guide the design, development, and fabrication of the elements.






Upon initial research of dance history and culture, there was a clear and ambitious relationship between the art of dance and architecture. It has been said that they were the first two art forms in existence, with dance coming first as a basic means of communication. In the span of their long coexistence there have been many collaboration strategies, though maybe not as many as one would think. Cultural distinction has been integral to the evolution of dance for ceremony, ritual, celebration, and entertainment into the contemporary. Developed and undeveloped context have imposed differentiation to suit needs of communicative dance throughout time

allowing different space, weight, time, and flow to be sought with the body. Replacing the fundamental goal of communication with the idea of shelter, a similar idea of cultural and contextual influence reveals itself in architecture. Using what is in the space or time near to create a sensitive, yet provocative experience which either coincides or challenges the existing. These small (or large) steps have pushed forward both the world of dance and architecture from the early dawn of man into today’s world. The age of globalization has provided catalyst to this developmental framework, giving immediate access to foreign space utilization, allowing for previously unseen hybridizations and collaborations to take form. This year’s theme “Commonality


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and Diversity” opens the gate to understanding these cultural influences based off of historical development and other relativities for dance in addition to architecture’s investigation of dance. The timely theme prompted theorizing about opposing perspectives in today’s social and political climate. The opportunity to use a black box theater with audiences on multiple sides pushed the theory to ask how many different performances can be viewed in a single room at a given time and in what way can architecture provide the framework to reveal something about state of human thought concerning moments of differing experiences, perspectives, and

sightings. Past years’ elements had varying characteristics, including the ability to hold a presence on stage without a dancer, lay flat and disappear into the background, to be inhabited and to be held. It was decided that the element should have the ability to become another dancer on the stage, be a structure for a dancer to rest under or in, and be able to be fall away into the background. These qualities lead to the development of three characteristics that were individually explored, the “spine,” the “screen” and the “quilt.”

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Compression and tension. The exploration of the human spine and the range of motion it can achieve. This range is what allows a differentiation in technique, style, and tempo, creating the world of dance for different uses and purposes. Martha Graham, for example, built her foundation of dance based on the idea of contraction and release within dance. This generated one of the most fluid world-wide styles still practiced today. Items which could begin to mimic these qualities, holding position on the stage, would act as additional performers for the students to interact with. When the body bends the object bends; when the body straightens, the object straightens. This would further emphasize the different movements of the different users that interact, proving that the same make-up does not yield the same result.

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The concept of “opposing perspectives” was explored through iteration of a movable partition. This “screen” allows the opportunity to separate the dancers from the audience, dancers from dancers, or something in between. Particularly within the black box theater setting, this allows audience members viewing the show from different vantage points (seat location, angle, height) to have even more unique experiences. The idea of different perspectives is derived from the differences that arise based on national and cultural viewpoints. When an event occurs, it is framed through a personal lens, rendering differently than the next person’s view or experience. This partition provides opportunity to not only create physical separation, but also allow the bleeding of light through to reveal the full performance, with different levels of intensity and depth.

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The idea of a rigid, yet adaptable system that responds to the individual energies applied by changing form. This was derived from the idea that although dance has a tangible temporality, its effect lasts beyond the measure of the tempo and timing. Toes are toughened, dust is shifted, people’s perspectives are changed. These subtle effects become causes themselves, creating a ripple of relative, though tangibly unlinkable events. This space-containing object would attempt to embody these cause-effect qualities through generation of different spatial moments from direct interaction, leaving it always in a slightly different state from normal, even when prompted.

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The explorations of characteristics each revealed properties that were carried forward toward a cohesive element-something that had the ability of adaptation on stage, presenting many identities throughout the duration of the performance; something that allowed for the abstraction of the human form, using lighting to hide and reveal; something with a makeup that allowed for different movement methods, ranging from fluid to rigid. This adaptation of identity, abstraction of body/space, and ranging movement create a dialogue of “Commonality & Diversity,� providing a multitude of ways in which the element can be interpreted. The variety of ways the element can be used, explored, and manipulated personified the individual

strengths and backgrounds of the dancers. The first step toward an element that integrated all of these ambitious qualities was taken by simply combining three components, each possessing one of the traits desired. Design trial and error led a path of material and connection analysis. Although each of the qualities explored easily provided enough framework to individually support the design of a series of elements, the final element would not be the quintessential image of each quality, but rather the quintessence of the summation of the three ideas. Thereby creating a family of elements with roots in the originally explored qualities.


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fabric compression rods unitized places cording

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Multiple geometries were tested with varying means of connection including cording, elastic, and twine. Maintaining consistency in the way the material was woven through a small hole cut into the tiles allowed for a rigid curve to be made by draping the sheet in one direction, but when turned to the other side, the sheet became limp. For ease of repair and manufacturing, only one shape was used to create the patterns shown. This thought lead to the pursuit of an economical system that uses only two materials to create a sheet that can be extended infinitely.

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The components were simplified from four separate materials into two. A shift to white acrylic resolved the qualities of the clear unitized tiles and white fabric through its rigid and translucent qualities. The tiles were joined using white zip ties, replacing the cording, allowing the tiles to rotate a small amount and then lock when pieced together. The unyielding qualities of the zip ties allows the tiles to prop against each other to create a form that is able to be occupied without additional support. The number of tiles pieced together and the tightness of the zip ties allows for changes in the way the sheet performs. The summation of thirty-six tiles each with a ten degree rotation allows for a gentler version of the same form created by eight tiles with a forty-five degree rotation.


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In the creation of the family, questions arose concerning the scale of the tile, the size of the sheet, , and the level of variation between members of the family. Should the tiles change in scale between members of the family? Should the tile size stay consistent and the scale be changed as the tiles and tessellated further? Should there be a new means of manipulation (a middle man) as the sheet becomes too large for one person to move alone? The elements, to this point, were designed to be able to stand alone. However, even if the geometric configuration made it possible, the question of the strength of the dancer as well as the limitations of the

human body were bought into question. Would the dancers be able to manipulate the largest sheet? How large could a sheet be before it was subtractive rather than additive to the use of the element? Previous collaborations with Jessica Lang and Steven Holl used elements that were suspended with cables and manipulated by a mechanical system. This question was explored further and answered in the office of Clark Nexsen. Having a series of four elements allowed for different sizes. Each, however were be designed so that it could be hung, but none were designated.

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Following the iterative design process exploring both traits and tangibility, the fabrication of the final elements began. Details became very important from this point on; small adaptations to the geometry were made in order to optimize the cut time for the laser cutter and material usage; space documentation and analysis were imperative; permissions and clearances needed to be given. The design called for 3,000 triangles to be cut, and this effort was outsourced to Norva Plastics. The performance venue needed to be fully analyzed as scale and ability of the elements relied heavily on the spaces in which they would be used. This included

both the open floor area, as well as dimensioning and documentation of the lighting superstructure above, all of which required special permissions to use. A system of suspension needed to be designed around the existing lighting equipment, careful not to interfere with the function of the lights due to the long span the element would be practiced with. The elements needed to be easily removed, portable, and stored so other programs would continue to have full use of the facility while the dancers were not using the spaces.


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The triangular tiles were arrayed into a series of parallelograms. It became evident that the geometry lent itself to a series of rows that could be stacked and repeated. This was used as a way of measuring the full sheets; one unit of tiles was made of six triangles pieced together into a parallelogram and measured approximately nine inches on each side. Four sheets were designed, a “six by six,” an “eight by eight,” a “ten by ten,” and a “sixteen by sixteen.” A Grasshopper script was used in Rhino to seed the sheets with clear tiles, replacing some of the white tiles. As the full sheet became larger, the seeding of clear tiles became less frequent, resulting in a more opaque sheet. White zip ties were used to attach the pieces to each other through small holes cut into the triangles.







UTILITECH™ Cable Ties (8,204 pc.)


75 lb Loop Tensile Strength 2” Bundle Diameter Double-sided Design White




Routered Acrylite Sheet (2,736 pc.) 1/4” Thickness 2 oz. White, Clear





*Full scale






8x8 10x10

tile seeding script


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To push forth the idea of suspension, an independent node was developed to allow not only for simple installation/ deinstallation, but also to give opportunity for each sheet to be hung up independently or together. This node assembly also eliminates the need for additional geometries to be used for connection, maintaining the purity of economy for the sheet assemblage. The node component is made of a solid geometry that sits under the element geometry and is secured through an eye bolt, threaded through the circular opening created by the filleted edges of the triangle geometries. These “openings� in the sheet assembly dictate the location of the nodes, allowing every element to be suspended at multiple points across the surface.





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Carabiner Hook

Element Location

5” Eye Bolt

5/8” Nut 5/8” Washer

1/2” Plywood

5/8” Washer 5/8” Nut

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The board itself needed to be designed for the space it would occupy. As a location was already was determined, there were loose dimension restrictions on the footprint. The height was then determined based on the footprint area to maintain a sturdy, balanced control. As the pulleys release from the superstructure wrung above, the rope is gathered at the top of the board and fed down the height to a respective “boat cleat� to be tied off. The board was designed with priority of control, sturdiness, and weight management capabilities. The base lining created a pocket for bags of sand to be laid to counteract the element weight.





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The black box theater at Brickell Academy was selected as the venue for the performance on August 5th. This allowed for the suspension of one or all of the elements, but required extensive planning and coordination. The elements were brought to Old Donation School on the Thursday before the performance, the only day that the personnel qualified to use the lifts were available. Limited time to work “on site” required the sheets to be assembled in the Clark Nexsen office and brought to the school in a series of eight by eight pieces. Upon arrival, the smaller sheets were zip tied together into their final forms and the edges of the sheets were filed to be less sharp-- a difference in the tiles that were cut in the office of Clark Nexsen on our laser cutter and the

final tiles cut by Norva Plastics in their shop. In transit, a few of the tiles were broken; the economy of the two piece system was truly shown in this moment. Replacing a tile was only a matter of cutting out the existing tile using a box cutter, replacing it with a pre-cut tile and using six zip ties to securing the unbroken piece in place. One tile could be replaced in five minutes or less. It was also noted that the tiles cut in Norva’s shop seemed to break more easily than the material provided by Norva to be cut by Clark Nexsen internally. Although the cause is undetermined, this could be due to a substitution in material or a change in the material’s nature by a different machine.


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To effectively understand and plan for the conditions of the black box theater, a reflected ceiling plan was drawn to coordinate where the existing lights are hung and where the systems of pulleys would be able to go. The node, placed under the sheet and secured using an eyebolt, nut, and bolt, was clipped to the rope ends using a carabiner clip. From the clip, the rope ran straight up to the gridded system where it met a pulley, which guided the rope diagonally across the gridded system, carefully placed as not to intersect any of the existing lights, to a corner pulley. A series of corner pulleys guided the ropes to a central channel toward the back of the theater, behind the main curtain where the panel was located. This allowed someone to manipulate the

sixteen by sixteen sheet independently using the pulley as a mediator. The installation of the suspension and pulley system was highly complex and further challenged by both a limited number of lift operators and time constraints. As a result, significant changes to the system will be made for Part II of this year’s collaboration to expedite the process of installing the pulleys and ropes.


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dance dance dance dance

Though the ultimate goal was to create elements for the Brickell Academy dancers, who range from third through eighth grade, to be used in the 2017-2018 school year, the Clark Nexsen team and the dance faculty decided to showcase the program’s fourth year of collaboration at a joint public-private event.

The event, hosted on August 5th, 2017 in the black box theater of Brickell Academy, featured a series improv pieces by seven collegiate and alumni dancers, some of whom were seeing and touching the elements for the first time. Once the dancers had the opportunity to dance with the elements individually, there was a more structured series of three improv collaborations, leveraging what the dancers had “learned” about the elements in their first piece. Finally, the audience moved to the auditorium, where the dancers performed three choreographed pieces in which they were to influence with what they “learned” from dancing with the elements.

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“Working with the structure was kind of like discovering and unveiling a new creature or species of some sort. The day of the performance was the first time my eyes had ever seen the structure, and the performance was the first time I had ever touched and worked with it. It felt as though the more I danced, touched, played and explored with it, the more it grew and came to life. Upon first exploration, I found the structure to be rigid and tangible, similar to a rock or a house. However, the more I got to work with it during the performance, the more I realized its vast and expansive fluid qualities. It could drape similar to a satin ball gown, yet mold and shape into a sturdy being at the same time. The amount of versatility that came about the structure

was amazing. As I watched the other dancers work with the structure as well, I learned from their experimentations. It was truly a ground breaking moment for me in my creative studies; watching, working, and learning from the structure, my colleagues and the sense of mystery from the audience as well. All of the creative yet cognitive decisions that were being made in a split second was breathtaking, and I will never forget the feeling this performance gave to my heart and soul.� - Haley Wall (alumni and collegiate dancer)


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“I was really moved by the dancers’ ability to dive into the elements without holding back. The elements were stimulating to the eyes and ears; seeing the dancers test the limit of the elements was particularly inspiring to me. The performance was overall an engaging and moving experience.� - Jessica Robinson (audience member)


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“Working with the structures was very much like dancing with a partner. The structures have movement possibilities where any attempt to manipulate them will cause them to react in ways that are often times unpredictable, much like a person. Also like a person, the more you move with the structure the greater understanding you have of its tendencies and capabilities and the more able you are to move with it effectively. By the end, I came to a mutual understanding with something that at first I was not able to understand.� - Jelani Taylor (alumni and collegiate dancer)


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photo sources

mario gandia 6, 11, 13, 19, 22, 102, 105, 106, 111, 116, 118, 122, 126, 130, 133, 136, 140 julia hager cover, 16, 32, 36, 37, 39, 40, 44, 45, 48, 50, 54, 56, 73, 84, 100, 108, 114, 122, 124, 128, 134 alex hochstetler 25, 36, 37, 44, 47, 52, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 67, 69, 78, 79, 81, 82, 89, 91, 94, 96, 98 elijah muhammad 16, 27, 28, 30, 34, 36, 37, 87, 88, 92, 112, 138



This project was sponsored by Clark Nexsen and was designed and fabricated at the corporate headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA. Part I was completed in the summer of 2017 under the guidance of Paul Battaglia (Department Head of Architecture). Part II will take place in the Spring of 2018 when the students of the Gifted Dance Program at Brickell Academy hold a final concert with the elements.

assembling the elements, and Katie Miller for help with graphics and printing.

We would also like to thank the Virginia Beach and Raleigh offices of Clark Nexsen for comment and critique, Dr. Kelly Hedrick and the Virginia Beach Public Schools for use of the performance space, Frank Wiener of Virginia Tech for helping develop theory surrounding the element, Norva Plastics for their help in fabricating tiles, David Keith, Alec We would like to thank Paul Battaglia for Yuzhbabenko, and all other individuals his guidance, support, and encouragement who met with us over the course of this throughout this project, Brittney Just project. and Mario Gandia for their help with documenting, Gavin Rios, Nick Hoople, and Hanna Keplinger; for their help with

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