About Time You Saw: Cowpuncher My AssBy Gilly Hopper
An audience torn from the pages of Dazed Magazine file into the Queen Elizabeth Hall at The Southbank Centre for the return of Cowpuncher My Ass, a reimagining of the sold-out Cowpuncher which premiered here in 2018. Big, subversive names have drawn them in.
Choreographer Holly Blakey is best known for her commercial work, including videos for Florence and the Machine and Gucci; costumes are by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood; and the soundtrack comes courtesy of Oscar-nominated composer Mica Levi. Quite the line-up.
Channelling their creativity into a cowboy-inspired dance performance, Cowpuncher My Ass is a story of “heroes and heroines, obsession, infidelity, suicide and cowboys” – though clasping for narrative is probably not the best approach for viewers.
Better to focus on the works physicality and imaginative take on the Wild West than cling to any linear story. Characterful lighting adds another level to the piece; house lights stay up until near the halfway mark before powering down for longer than feels comfortable – later a saloon spotlight roams across the auditorium. Mica’s unconventional score propels the troupe of dancers through scenes of eroticism and abstract asides; pulsations from the sound system reverberate throughout the auditorium, transferring a rhythmic pulse from stage to stalls. It’s these moments of technical triumph that really lasso you in. Yet, choreography – while imaginative and highly physical – is underdeveloped, and connection wains in the closing moments of the show.
Cowpuncher My Ass runs at Queen Elizabeth Hall until 8 February 2020.