What is Cleave?
Cleave: a contronym meaning 1) to separate apart and 2) to cling together.

Through partnering that is as rugged as it is tender, Cleave explores the elasticity of the human experience that compels us toward intimacy and enmity. Under the artistic direction of Brandon Shaw, Cleave unravels dualities such as violence and pacifism, body and mind, love and hate, choreographically demonstrating a cohesion strengthened by our obsession with separating and stratifying.

Brandon Shaw, Artistic Director, began his training with movement as a child by studying karate and ballet in Birmingham, Alabama (USA). The dichotomies between these two approaches continue to fascinate him as a choreographer. He explores the power and grace, explosiveness and languor, breaking a body down and holding it aloft.

Through his own experience with dance (contemporary, Contact Improvisation, and Argentine tango) and martial arts (Tai Chi, Kung-fu, and Kyokushin karate), Brandon’s detailed knowledge of the dynamics of partnering shows through his choreography. Dancers can be seen using the same knowledge to elevate each other or methodically destroy, vacillating rapidly between tenderness and hostility. His solo work shows a similar tendency to precariously handle one’s own extremities as tools or weapons which both propel and pummel the body.

Brandon has a penchant for crafting arresting, ambiguous images. The ambiguity he creates invites the audience to draw on their own experiences for wildly divergent interpretations. Although he often engages with dark themes, one has the impression of a continuous striving fueled by dedication and a quiet optimism.

As a Lecturer at the University of Malta, Brandon is also an passionate teacher and dance scholar.