This new version keeps its outlandish costumes by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood and Mica Levi's original score, but this time the music will be played live by the London Contemporary Orchestra.
We have no further information about the new version of Cowpuncher My Ass, but for guidance we include below Culture Whisper's ★★★★★ of the 2020 performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
If you like your dance ethereal, delicate and in established good taste, Cowpuncher My Ass is not for you – but then you may already have gathered as much from the title alone…
Or, on second thoughts, you may very well be the show’s target audience, since choreographer Holly Blakey’s purpose is so obviously to shock, as well as entertain.
Following on from its controversial 2018 predecessor, Cowpuncher, this new riff on the theme of designer-clad cowboys dancing to post-modern punk is in your face, somewhat subversive, and at times exhilarating. At times, too, it has to be said, it’s rather silly and juvenile.
The first thing that hits you are the costumes, bearing the signature of Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, herself once – remember! – the queen of punk fashion.
The show starts very late (of course it does, we’re in convention-defying post-punk territory). The house lights remain up as the seven dancers slowly file onto the stage: first a scowling platinum blond dressed in a voluminous cream pink loose silk jacket with puffed sleeves and matching flowing trousers.
Two of the three women wear what on the surface appear rather modest knee-length dresses, but will prove to be anything but; the third wears a funny combination of bustier with see-through netting trouser legs, which knot behind her neck and leave her backside exposed.
This outfit finds its counterpart in one of the men, whose visual is complemented by a bright green thatch of hair.
You get the idea. The visual is eye-catching, colourful and mildly transgressive. Only mildly, mind: Michael Clark was first with the bare bottoms shtick in the heady actual punk days of the 80s.
The sound score, very loud, consisting of sequences of repetitive beats interspersed with bursts of electronic noise that vibrate inside your chest, comes from Mica Levi, the award-winning composer of film soundtracks, here appearing elated to be free of the shackles of harmonic, award-courting music.
And what of the choreography? Looking at the title, it has to be said there’s a lot more ‘Ass’ than ‘Cowpuncher’. The references to the Wild West and the people who ran the cattle there are light, Blakey’s primary aim being subversion – of everything.
At one point the pink-clad blond pads downstage, lies down and with slow, deliberate gestures lowers his pants to expose his shapely bottom. Ass in the air, he writhes around for a while until, seemingly bored, he does up his pants and disappears under an enormous black cowboy hat. That moment is laugh-out-loud funny.
Blakey is well served by seven outstanding dancers, their coordination in pulsating ensemble pieces impeccable, each of them taking on an individual character with brio and commitment.
As it goes on, references to horse riding dovetail into enthusiastic simulated copulation. And short as it is at 50 minutes, the show ceases to have anything to say well before the end. But up until then, it is rather entertaining – just not as badass as it thinks…
|What||Holly Blakey, Cowpuncher My Ass, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 15 Feb 23, 19:30 Dur.: TBC
|Price||£22.50-£40 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|