Shia was the embodiment of thought and reasoning (adulthood) while Maddie was the embodiment of freedom and carefree nature (childhood) all in the mind (cage which can also be formed by society among other factors). The dance i believe was meant to portray that the two cannot always co-exist in harmony. While your mind wants to be free it is still restricted to reasoning, thus they fight.
Your reasoning fights your freedom and carefree nature, trying to tame and control it, but the mind will always long for freedom and thus will never be tamed no matter what angles or whatever methods you use (shia using chains against maddie where she resists and escapes, then he tries to use the gentle approach to which he was bitten). Reasoning will get angry and lashout at this side of you, but you cannot truly hurt or banish your free side no matter how much you want, but your free side can injure your reasoning quite easily but truly wishes not to (notice how many times Maddie kicked him and threw him against the cage, but Shia could barely touch her. His hands are cut and bruised from the countless fights, but Maddie barely has a scratch).
There are then times that reasoning and freedom are harmonious, resulting in bliss. They have truly accepted one another for what they are and are not. They realize they both need each other fundamentally. At this point your freedom will try to pull you into other things, but while your freedom is as it says, free, your reasoning and thought is not. At this point I believe that it was intentional that the cage gaps was indeed big enough for Shia to slip through, but it was all in his head why he couldn't truly leave (the cage). The freedom is there, urging you and tugging you to step outside your cage, showing you the way, but your reasoning is forever trapped in the cage that your mind created (to why tears formed for Shia in the end, he saw the way but he could never leave). Freedom is puzzled and wants to understand why you cant leave but cannot due to her nature. Reasoning wants to understand how freedom can leave but cannot due to his nature. And so it will be an everlasting fight.
The more I watched the video the more I understood why SIA chose those actors to play those roles. The expressions needed to convey those ideas is not something you come across everyday (especially the last scene). It truly is unfortunate that some of us see it as something twisted instead of the piece of art it is supposed to be. The video could have been dumbed down for easier viewing and understanding, but some of its meaning would be lost. I watched the video a couple times to pick up the subtle hints (freedom is not restricted by the cage. She sees the cage, she walks around in it but it never restricts her movement, she rarely even touches it lest for entering and exiting the cage. Reasoning on the other hand interacts with the cage quite frequently. He climbs it, shakes it, punches it to show his interaction with it.)
I find the video very accurately portrays today's world. Read more →