The Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (venue)
07 February 2020 (released)
10 February 2020
The Queen Elizabeth Hall is packed and buzzing with expectation for ‘Cowpuncher my Ass’. Choreographer Holly Blake, well known for her work on pop videos (Cold Play, Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine) had a huge hit here with ‘Cowpuncher’ in 2018 and it’s no surprise to find an appetite for the irreverent, exhilarating ride to come.
The house lights stay up for the first half of the show, as Blake’s ensemble of seven dancers, confront the audience with a fearless gaze. One minute they seem wild and free, the next coiled tight, dripping with attitude as they prowl and pound the stage to a high voltage sound-track by Mica Levi. Andreas Kronthaler from the Vivienne Westwood House also returns to dress the show in stunning punk couture, each costume bold and unique.
Levi’s soundscape emerges from fragments of laughing voices, smashed glass and bullets before dropping some painfully dirty bass sounds which rouse the dancers to exhilarating heights. It feels at times like having a glimpse into a hedonistic party of beautiful (if slightly demonic) people, an invitation to you’d be crazy to turn down as desire rules and hair is swung like lassoes. Kronthaler’s costumes are beautiful and funny, the effortless elegance of his pale draped fabric suddenly revealing a naked ass.
Blake’s production plays a serious game of desire; this is no traditional male dominated cowboy dynamic, instead the female dancers are empowered by their sexuality and the group drop as one to the pounding bass. With its fresh and provocative take on sexuality, outlaws and fashion it really is a performance that straddles the territory between high art and popular culture. For more contemporary dance and music, check out the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, which has an exciting programme for the year ahead.