Arieli had exactly an hour with each company, which included time spent explaining the project and setting up the space. He gave them prompts like “release the movement from your body,” “let your body parts intertwine with the other members of the company,” “let your head fall back,” and “don’t allow any spaces to form between you”—but left the specifics up to the dancers to direct and interpret. “In contemporary dance, the dancers are often contributors to the choreography process,” he explains. “They are required to bring their unique movement and not just imitate the choreographer, but to offer interpretation and originality to the piece created—that is exactly what I was looking for.”
Ranging from images of towering heaps of bodies to close-ups of arms, legs, and faces (with their eyes closed peacefully, as though they’re caught in a deep slumber), the photographs encompass ingenuity, cooperation, collaboration, and diversity. “The contemporary dance world, much more than the classical one, is pretty diverse by definition,” Arieli notes. “My focus was on the quality of work that the company makes and the quality of dancers they have. I wanted the most intelligent and capable dancers because I knew they would produce the most complex images.”
Arieli’s “Flocks” are perhaps his most revelatory works yet. While delving into the intimacy and trust that dancers share with one another, and foregrounding their flawless forms, he offers a window into the behind-the-scenes relationships that don’t come across during a staged performance. Despite being caught in repose, often with their eyes closed, the dancers appear to simultaneously feed off of and find comfort in one another. Arieli captures a sense of energy—a physical and psychological pull that binds them together.