The definitive information resource for South Asian dance in the UK
Photo credit: Simon Richardson

Bisakha Sarker: Do not yet fold your wings

Start date: 17 Oct 2015

End date: 22 Nov 2015

Venue: The Bluecoat, Liverpool

Venue address: The Bluecoat, Liverpool, United Kingdom


A dancer and choreographer who was recently awarded an MBE for services to dance has teamed up with visual artist Ansuman Biswas to create a movement-inspired video installation.


Commissioned by Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Do not yet fold your wings sees dance practitioner Bisakha Sarker explore her own ‘late style’, celebrating the unique possibilities and challenges offered by an ever-changing mind and body, through dance.


The collaborative multi-media project is funded by The Baring Foundation as part of its nationwide programme ‘Late Style’, which funds professional artists over the age of 70 to bring their artistic craft and insights to the theme of ‘Age’.


Reflecting on the notion of a meaningful life as presented in Dr Atul Gawande’s 2014 Reith Lecture series The Future of Medicine, the installation is also inspired by the words of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. Indeed, it was a shared love of Tagore’s poetry that provided the basis for Bisakha and Ansuman’s creative collaboration.


Ansuman has been Bisakha’s chief collaborator in turning her vision into the immersive video installation, which will be projected across the walls of the Vide, an impressive atrium space at Bluecoat.


In addition to the collaboration with Biswas, whose groundbreaking work has involved him being employed as an ornamental hermit in the English countryside and collaborating with neuroscientists in Arizona, Bisakha also worked with North West composer Chris Davies on the installation soundtrack and choreographer Marc Brew to find an appropriate physical vocabulary. All three artists have supported and challenged the dancer as she explores the capabilities and possibilities of the ageing body.


Bisakha said: “The fear of ageing is harder to overcome than the actual process of ageing. Most of the time we tend to associate ageing with loss. We look back to contrast and compare what was lost and remain oblivious to what has been gained from the long journey through life.


“As dance has a close connection with youth and energy, dancers feel more vulnerable to the thought of physical limitations imposed by the ageing process. One of the ways to face this is to leave the deficit model behind and search for what can be done with the physicality as it is at the current stage of life. There goes the search for a ‘late’ style.”


Ansuman Biswas added: “Bisakha’s work is rooted in community and in live performance. My challenge in working with her has been to find a way to communicate her passion without her physical presence. We have arrived at an intervention into the extraordinary space of the Bluecoat building which is both a dance and an installation. It represents continuity and longevity, as well as novelty and experimentation – truly the beginning of a late style.”


Bisakha has worked as a professional dancer since the 1970s, and was awarded an MBE last year for her services to dance.


Trained in classical and creative Indian dance in India, Bisakha actively challenges the position of South Asian dance, and has performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, founded her own dance company with fellow artist Sanjeevini Dutta, and created a live performance in Jodrell Bank as part of a Year of the Artist commission.


Since turning 50, Bisakha has taken an active interest in dance and ageing, exploring not only the physical aspects through her work, but also how age may change both emotional and artistic perceptions of it.


For more information, please contact Rachael Tinniswood on 07846 406487.


About Bluecoat


Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, supporting and presenting visual art, music, dance, live art and literature, as well as practices that fall in between these categories.


The most historic building in Liverpool city centre, Bluecoat has four galleries and a variety of performance spaces. It is also home to over 30 arts organisations and individuals including visual artists, graphic designers, crafts people, dancers, theatre companies and printmakers. Amongst its retail spaces are Probe Records, Liverpool’s longest running seller of vinyl, founded in 1971.


Dating from the early 18th century, the building’s architectural importance is illuminated by its UNESCO world heritage and Grade One listed status. Bluecoat is the UK’s oldest arts centre, with a rich artistic history; early exhibitions include the first showing of the Post Impressionists alongside their UK peers in 1911. In March 2008, Bluecoat re-launched after a £14 million re-development designed by Rotterdam architects Biq Architecten.


The past few years have seen the organisation show internationally renowned artists such as William Kentridge, Sonia Boyce, John Akomfrah and Mark Leckey, while simultaneously engaging the most vulnerable, from those with dementia to families facing disadvantage, through its community projects.


Bluecoat is more than a contemporary arts centre in an historic building: it is an intersection between art and our times, a cultural and social meeting point that creates a strong dynamic between art, the city and the culture of Liverpool, and everyday life.

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About Baring Foundation


Baring Foundation is a charitable trust which aims to improve the quality of life of people experiencing disadvantage and discrimination. They aim to achieve this through making grants to voluntary and other civil society organisations and by adding value including through promoting knowledge and influencing others.


Since 2010 Baring Foundation has focused its arts grants programme on participatory arts with people over 60 and usually those facing disadvantage or discrimination. This approach supports their belief that everyone has a right to take part in cultural activities, but that these also bring benefits in terms of personal health and well-being, as well as community development.


About Ansuman Biswas

Ansuman Biswas is an international disciplinary artist whose central concern lies between science, work and religion. He is interested in traversing, transposing and translating across many different kinds of border.


Over the last few years, Ansuman’s work has included directing Shakespeare in America, translating Tagore’s poetry from the Bengali, designing sculptures in the Red Sea, living with wandering minstrels in India, being employed as an ornamental hermit in the English countryside, touring with Bjork, spending two days blindfolded in an unknown place, travelling with shamans in the Gobi Desert, playing with Oasis, co-ordinating grassroots activists in Soweto, and making a musical in a maximum security prison.


About Chris Davies

Chris Davies provided the soundtrack for Bisakha’s work. A long-term collaborator of Bisakha’s, Chris has extensive experience of cross art form collaboration and is an established composer and performer based in the North West.


About Marc Brew

International dance artist and choreographer Marc Brew has a long-established relationship with Bisakha and has supported her exploration of her ‘late style’. Bisakha selected Marc for the project after being inspired by previous workshops he has led in the North West.


Photo credit: Simon Richardson