Arts & CulturePress Release

Southbank Centre brings back genre-defying performance piece ‘Cowpuncher My Ass’

LONDON, UK — Artistic venue Southbank Centre has announced the return of “Cowpuncher My Ass,” the genre-defying performance piece commissioned by the Southbank Centre with choreographer Holly Blakey, original score by Mica Levi, and costume design by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivenne Westwood.

An expanded “Cowpuncher My Ass” arrives for one night only on February 15, 2023, to the Royal Festival Hall, following the sell-out success of its previous stagings in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2018 and 2020. Originally commissioned by the Southbank Centre, 2023’s production of Cowpuncher My Ass has been developed by the creative team to transform the Royal Festival Hall into Blakey and Levi’s visceral Western-inspired world, alongside the London Contemporary Orchestra for the first time.

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“Cowpuncher My Ass” explores the vibrant, and often violent, tale of the Wild West genre. Cowboys wrestle with gender stereotypes, identity, and sexual politics as they venture into the territory between high art and popular culture. A centerpiece of the production, the bold costumes are again designed by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. From corseted dresses to oversized shirts and western belts, these raw, unisex designs evoke a modern spirit of punk.

On the return of “Cowpuncher My Ass,” choreographer Holly Blakey said, “It has been four years of playing with this sequel of ideas, unearthing and retelling and driving somewhere new. I am honored and excited to close this journey at the Royal Festival Hall with collaborators I so love and admire.”

Southbank Centre Artistic Director Mark Ball commented: “This is such a glorious, genre-defying collaboration by artists fizzing with creative ideas and we’re excited to see Holly and Mica’s truly bold creative vision grow from strength to strength. After sell-out runs in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the grandeur of the Royal Festival Hall will be a fitting setting for such a daring, and newly expanded, cross-artform work. Their return to the Southbank Centre in February will be an early highlight of 2023’s performance and dance program.”

Holly Blakey’s choreography refreshes contemporary dance by creating movement that brings an eruption of constantly shifting diverse visual languages. Her work explores empowerment, trust, instinct, and vulnerability. Recently, she has worked with Rosalia (2022), Jeremy Deller (2022), which features Gwilym Gold, Dave Okumu, Olly Coates, Neil Charles, and Tom Skinner, and on Triptych (2021) a film commissioned by CHEERIO of the Francis Bacon Estate. Further choreographic credits include fashion films for Gucci, Dior, and Paul Smith, and music videos including Coldplay’s “Adventure of A Lifetime” (2015), Young Fathers’ “Shame” (2015), and Florence and the Machine’s “The Odyssey” (2016), for which she won Best Choreography In a Video at the UK Music Video Awards in 2016. In 2017, she collaborated with Gwilym Gold and Darkstar on Some Greater Class in the Clore Ballroom at the Southbank Centre.

Alongside Blakey’s fearless, boundary-breaking movement, her long-time collaborator Mica Levi brings their electronic psychedelia music, rooted in South London’s DIY scene. The synergy is electric; as both movement and sound interweave to create shape-shifting compositions that build with intensity. Levi’s iconic score for Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin won the European Film Award, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Music. Mica was also the youngest artist in residence at the Southbank Centre and has performed at major art institutions worldwide including the Getty, MoMA PS1 and the Barbican. Beyond the screen and stage, they have released a bounty of music as a recording artist, including 2021’s critically acclaimed Blue Alibi and with their group, Good Sad Happy Bad.

A regular collaborator at Southbank Centre events, the London Contemporary Orchestra is a leading global orchestral group focused on playing, commissioning, and developing new music and artistic output. Alongside working with well-known artists, the LCO focuses on developing a diverse next generation of players, conductors, and composers by creating opportunities for them to work at the highest professional level. Formed in 2008 by co-artistic Directors Robert Ames and Hugh Brunt, the LCO has collaborated with a wide array of musicians, artists, creative figures, platforms, and venues such as Radiohead, Frank Ocean, Jed Kurzel, Jonny Greenwood, Steve Reich, Justice, Terry Riley, Thom Yorke, Mica Levi, Actress, Beck, William Basinski, Richard Reid Parry, Goldfrapp, and Vivienne Westwood.

Tickets to “Cowpuncher My Ass” are now on sale here.

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