Clark Nexsen was recently recognized as a 2020 Model Partner by Virginia Beach City Public Schools for its outreach program and partnership with the Brickell Academy dance program (formerly known as Old Donation School). The Clark Nexsen and Brickell Academy collaboration is among eight different partnership programs being recognized this year.
What began as a community outreach effort by Clark Nexsen to support the community and to collaborate with creative students has grown into a fully reciprocal learning experience for the dancers and architects.
The dance program at Brickell Academy is a unit within the arts magnet of Virginia Beach Public Schools, providing differentiated instruction designed to support the kinesthetic learning style associated with students ranging from 2nd to 8th grade. Clark Nexsen first collaborated with the academy in 2014 to create a Dance Meets Architecture series within the school, which is now in its seventh year. Clark Nexsen principal, Paul Battaglia, and the faculty of Brickell Academy provide the leadership behind this dynamic partnership.
For Paul, what started as initial research of dance history and culture quickly sparked a connection between the art of dance and architecture. Seizing the opportunity to combine artistic passion with community involvement, Paul and a team of Clark Nexsen architects and interior designers engaged with students and faculty at Brickell Academy to develop elements (architectural forms) to be used by the students in choreography. “Dance and architecture share a common interest in some fundamental concepts, namely, space, time and relating to the human body. The program itself has been both humbling and liberating. Humbling in the sense that it recognizes the limits of what any single discipline can accomplish in and of itself and liberating in the sense that when these limits are recognized and accepted, they can be executed more authentically and confidently” Paul explained. “The students – they’ve taught us a lot – about dance, about architecture, about design, and about collaboration and adaptation.”
Model Partners were chosen through a blind selection process carried out by members of the 2020 Partnership Selection Committee, which consisted of former Model Partners and Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) administrators. The committee focused on evaluating areas such as innovation, impact on students’ academic achievement and personal growth, documented results, and mutual benefit to the school, students, and community partner.
“Now more than ever school and community partnerships are absolutely critical to keep us moving in the right direction. Each year VBCPS recognizes impactful partnerships that demonstrate exemplary school-community collaborations and support the academic growth and social and emotional development of our students,” noted Dr. Spence, superintendent of VBCPS.
Transcending barriers such as age and discipline to create mutual admiration between architects and dancers, the enthusiasm behind this collaboration continues to carry Dance Meets Architecture forward.
About Virginia Beach City Schools
Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the largest school division in the region, consisting of 55 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, 12 high schools and a number of secondary/post-secondary specialty centers.
Dance Meets Architecture practice and performance photos of students and alumni of the Brickell Academy dance program.