Through a collection of fascinatingly raw images, Nir Arieli explores what occurs when groups of professional dancers are commanded to stop moving. Featuring shots of athletic bodies intertwined languidly and sensually, his photography delves into the complex group dynamic and physical interactions between these dance troupes that spend their lives practicing, creating and moving together. Entitled Flocks, which translates to “company” in Hebrew (Arieli's native language), the series references a flock of like-minded animals. This unique project visually explores the herd mentality that stems from a group of separate beings coming together to form a cohesive unit.
The series spotlights several world-class dance companies, including the Shen Wei Dance Arts, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Nederlands Dans Theater II, as well as many others. “Despite the companies' great differences in culture, heritage and sensibility the resulting photographs all had a shared quality, revealing something fundamental about how dancers physically communicate,” Arieli explains. “Relying mostly on nonverbal language, the dancers formed intricate living sculptures. As they worked together, the minute dialogues between them enabled a larger visual narrative. The intertwining of bodies carries an undercurrent of sex and death, reflecting and amplifying the complexity of human relationships.”
Arieli's work is an unexpected alternative to the typical offerings of mainstream dance photography. The focus of his series is to capture moments before and after movement, directly opposed to images that seek to transmit the perfectly poised maneuvers onstage. Arieli searches for more private and imperfect visuals, and through this approach has created a project that is somehow more organic.
Flocks will be on display at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York from April 21 to June 4.