Cowpuncher My Ass by Holly Blakey | evaluation

Phrases by angel mud and Katie Hagan.

(KH): Holly Blakey’s Cowpuncher My Ass is dripping in coolness. It’s been a few years since its final pre-pandemic efficiency in 2020, which one among our dance writers reviewed and liked for its transgressive method. 

Now just a few years later comes a brand new rendition of Cowpuncher My Ass to the Saharan expansiveness of the Southbank Centre. This trippy, folky dance-western options a lot of ass and IG Reel stylish choreography, however this time it’s barely longer in period, with the extra presence of London Modern Orchestra coming in three quarters of the best way by means of to play a shrill violin sequence that heightens the extremely strung sexualness of what occurs onstage.

What’s good about Cowpuncher My Ass is the faultlessly cool aesthetic and unapologetically brash presentation of sexual impulse and want. Aesthetically and sensorially, this present is a scrumptious mismatch of pop and better artwork. In Mica Levi’s beautiful rating, you get sounds of the motorway jarring towards hacking mechanical clunks – and the violin. The sound design is so highly effective you’ll be able to style it. Stunning dancers glide and gyrate within the late Vivienne Westood’s high-end vogue designs. I don’t suppose we’re purported to make sense of how Cowpuncher’s polarities sit with one another, however the combos are strange.

There isn’t a plot in Cowpuncher, reasonably there are summary cycles of thumpy choreography blended with the rating and costumes. Our bodies shake, they’re thrown to the ground; hip thrusts; gyrations, undulations. Cowpuncher is that this ageless pagan satanic ritual. Dancers take one another for a experience, and there’s playful allusions to intercourse acts and positions which in a Southbank Centre efficiency context really feel rebelliously taboo of their confrontation.

Past the aesthetic and to how Cowpuncher My Ass makes you are feeling, I hit a little bit of a stumbling block. The present ebbs and flows; you might be pulled out and in. The choreography is implausible, the dancers are distinctive and transfer exceptionally, however one thing is lacking to actually hook you in and seize you by the neck, even when it appears, that’s the want.

(advert): I feel that Cowpuncher My Ass forces us to confront a sure rawness and bareness. It does that by trying to be daring in ways in which open up house for exploring what discomfort is, asking the query of the place does it come from and why? Nevertheless, it’s not clear whether or not that’s the essential intention. Its boldness by no means escalates, that means that the viewers is continually left greedy for a pant. 

Cowpuncher is sensible and funky, similar to its title, however may it profit from additional dramaturgical growth? There may be concurrently an excessive amount of and never sufficient occurring at any given level. Having mentioned that, I used to be nonetheless drawn into this futuristic-universal-folk rave, however I saved ready to be stunned which sadly by no means occurred. I wanted extra ass, extra snow and possibly an additional shot in my double gin and tonic.

Photograph credit score: Arnaud Mbaki.


Chester Hayes @chesterhayes

Grace Jabbari @gracejabbari

Becky Namgauds @beckynamgauds

Jonny Vieco @jonnyvieco

Naomi Weijand @naomiweijand

Meshach Henry @meshhenry

Moses Ward @moses.m.o.ward

+ 20 musicians from the London Modern Orchestra


Holly Blakey – Director / Choreographer @hollytblakey

Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood – Costumes @ndreaskronthaler for @viviennewestwood

Rob Ames for London Modern Orchestra – @lcorchestra

Mica Levi – Authentic rating – #micalevi

Ben Totty – Exec Producer @bentotty84 for @boxartistmanagement

Ornella Salloum – Producer

Nathalie Blue – Reserving Agent @newformmusic

Darcy Wallace – Choreographers Assistant @darcyjwallace

Jeannie Steele: Rehearsal Director