MBE dancer teams up with Ansuman Biswas for installation

Bisakha Sarker: Do not yet fold your wings

The Bluecoat, Liverpool

17 Oct – 22 Nov 2015

Open daily 10am – 6pm. Free.

(picture credit Simon Richardson)

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.


Fri 25 Sep, 6.30-8pm


MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative) in collaboration with Bluecoat, presents an evening of dance by older people. Tickets £8/£6.


Sat 17 Oct & Sun 18 Oct, 1-4pm

Family Weekend

A weekend of creative family activities linked to our exhibitions, including Do Not Yet Fold Your Wings. Free.


Sat 17 Oct, 4-5pm

Artists Talk: Do not yet fold your wings

Bisakha Sarker, Ansuman Biswas and Chris Davies discuss their collaboration including the influence of the poet Tagore on their work. Free, booking required.


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