BRANDON WHITED (UCSB | Associate Professor, Director of Dance Performance)— began dancing at the age of ten after his family relocated to North Carolina. He received both his High School diploma and BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under a brilliant and inspiring faculty. In addition to conservatory training based in the Cunningham, Limón and Nikolais techniques and Classical Ballet, Brandon was exposed to a strong supplement of guest teacher-choreographers—which informed his eclectic approach to contemporary technique grounded in traditional modern dance.
Returning to his roots in New York, Brandon danced professionally with Steeledance (Teri and Oliver Steele), Randy James Dance Works, Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, danscores by Ofelia Loret de Mola, and as a specialized supernumerary with the Metropolitan Opera. In 2008 he joined Shen Wei Dance Arts as an apprentice and became a core member from 2009-2014. During that period, Brandon toured Shen Wei’s rich repertory domestically and internationally, and originated roles in four works— Re-III (2009), Limited States (2010), Undivided/Divided (2011) and Collective Measures (2013).
Following his professional performance career, Brandon received his MFA as a Distinguished University Fellow from The Ohio State University. His research there considered the intersection of masculinities studies/queer theory, dance studies and contemporary dance. Cipher XY (2015), his MFA Thesis Project, explored the range of male/masculine gender identity, expression and representation through choreographic process and the community-building dynamic of work in the studio.
Brandon’s teaching focus is centered around contemporary technique, rooted in tradition, yet informed by Shen Wei’s “Natural Body Development Technique,” somatics, and improvisation. His class focuses on qualitative range, support of the breath, supple articulation of the spine and limbs—for sequentiality, articulation, efficiency and supported release—and use of weight and momentum for dynamic movement through space. Brandon’s teaching practice also encompasses composition, improvisation, social dance and multiple forms of dance partnering.
Brandon’s choreographic research has been presented domestically in New York, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, Texas and California domestically, and internationally in Italy with a collaborative site-specific installation Loro Sono Loro/they are them (2017), with collaborator Sarah Lisette Chiesa. Mr. Whited created a duet, Petit Pas (2017), for Santa Barbara Dance Theater as a guest performer and choreographer, and premiered 95 North (2019) for SBDT’s spring season at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. Both dances for SBDT were accepted into the 2019 Dance Gallery Festival in New York City and Texas. Most recently, Brandon presented Boys Like Us (2019), an evening-length expansion of a duet version that premiered at Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA) in August 2018.
Taking the creative helm of Santa Barbara Dance Theater is an honor, and a source of excitement and possibility for Brandon as he looks to a new future for SBDT.