In 2015, BSDC was commissioned to create a piece for KrebsFest, a weeklong celebration of University of Sheffield scientist Sir Hans Krebs. Krebs won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1953 for his research into the citric acid cycle, a cellular process fundamental to life. Now known as the Krebs Cycle, it described for the first time how food is converted into energy at a microscopic level.
The work was part of ’No Greater Fear than the Unseen’, a collaboration between artist Luke Jerram, scientists including Dr. Nate Adams from The Krebs Institute, and BSDC. The project presented a number of exciting opportunities: to synthesise dance, visual arts and complex science concepts, to celebrate regional achievements, and to unlock new connections by describing a bodily energy process through the expressive language of Kathak.
The aim of the project was to stimulate interest in the essential processes at the molecular level of microbiology. BSDC presented a vibrant range of dance work, including performances on the stage of the Great Hall at Firth Court, and pop-up interventions embedded within the bustling hands-on science activities around the venue. There was even a piece responding to Luke Jerram’s giant inflatable E. coli sculpture, which was suspended above the dancers in the rafters. Many of the performances combined with displays of artwork and computer simulations of Krebs’ discoveries around the room to create a sense of continuity between the arts and sciences.
The event was aimed at a public audience, including families and children, and Balbir and the team sought a lightness and humanity to give these audiences a way in to what could be a challenging theme. A live musical score composed by Jesse Bannister accompanied the performance.
As well as engaging with world-changing science concepts, the work told the story of Hans Krebs himself, and on Friday 6th November, the production was exclusively previewed to a VIP audience, including some of Nobel Prize winner Sir Hans Krebs’ family.
‘I discovered that there is more commonality between the thinking of artists and scientists than one might imagine. The discipline, creative thinking – and even the intuitive leaps of faith were surprisingly similar” BS
BSDC are always aiming to establish new audiences in both the scientific and arts worlds, and the KrebsFest was a great example of our ongoing commitment to finding the common ground that underpins apparently different ideas. If science is a foreign country, Balbir believes you can visit it.