To celebrate the reopening of London’s iconic Queen
Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre,
this Spring, choreographer Holly Blakey
and composer Mica Levi will
collaborate with Vivienne Westwood
and stage a world premiere of
their new performance, Cowpuncher
In a stunning performance, Blakey and Levi, who met at Southbank Centre, will toy with the structure, sounds and vistas of the Western movie genre, creating a scorched and sandy playground re-defined by dance and music.
Commissioned by Southbank Centre, the special one-off performance and World Premiere will take place on Friday 13 April.
Within this desolate landscape counter-cultural identities crash and frolic with the classic filmic iconography of the American West. Dancers dressed in the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood Spring- Summer 2018 collection swagger and strut as the archetypal cowboy- morphing into a new language of movement. As the performers question contemporary sexual politics, their clothes define their characters and identities. Their movement and interactions connect outlaws and outsiders everywhere, as the desert becomes the dance floor.
"Cowpuncher is a reimagining of the cowboy, a reimagining of masculinity, femininity and spaghetti western storytelling. The intention at the heart of the show is to explore these parallels, putting the violently real and dreamlike side-by-side. I have always connected to Vivienne Westwood; culturally, historically, aesthetically….the idea that you can take something real and extend it into something even more magical or twist it to create something new. I feel like everything I wanted these characters to be… when I saw Andreas’s collection, they suddenly began to sing to me”
‘I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and there is a fascinating interconnection between the ideas of my collection and the themes of Holly’s work. I love the Southbank Centre - when I first came to London 30 years ago it’s one of the first places I visited and I go time and time again. It’s such a great hub for ideas.I’ve seen so many great things in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, I’m curious to see how it’s changed and looking forwards to this special opening”
Vivienne Westwood began designing in 1971 along with her then partner Malcolm McLaren in London. At the time they used their shop at 430 Kings Road, London, to showcase their ideas and designs. With their changing ideas of fashion came the change of not only the name of the shop but also the décor. It was in 1976 when Westwood and McLaren defined the street culture of Punk with Seditionaries.
By the end of the seventies Vivienne Westwood was already considered a symbol of the British avant-garde and for Autumn/Winter 1981 she showed her first catwalk presentation at Olympia in London. Westwood then turned to traditional Savile Row tailoring techniques, using British fabrics and 17th and 18th century art for inspiration.
1989 was the year that Vivienne met Andreas Kronthaler, who would later become her husband and long-time design partner, as well as Creative Director of the brand. In 2004 the Victoria & Albert museum, London, hosted a Vivienne Westwood retrospective exhibition to celebrate her then 34 years in fashion – the largest exhibition ever devoted to a living British fashion designer. In 2006, her contribution to British Fashion was officially recognised when she was appointed Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2007 was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Fashion’ at the British Fashion Awards in London.
Vivienne Westwood is one of the last independent global fashion companies in the world. At times thought provoking, this brand is about more than producing clothes and accessories. Westwood continues to capture the imagination, and raise awareness of environmental and human rights issues. With a design record spanning over forty years, Vivienne Westwood is now recognized as a global brand and Westwood herself as one of the most influential fashion designers, and activists, in the world today.
Born in North Yorkshire and now based in London, Holly’s dance work spans stage and screen. Her award-winning debut live show Some Greater Class performed at the Southbank in summer 2017. Described in the press as “an ambitious choreographer who has the ability to shake up the world of contemporary dance” (Peter Jacobs, Methods of Dance) with her edgy, diverse and gender-fluid cast of dancers.
Holly’s work for camera, as a Director and Choreographer, has featured high profile collaborations with music artists and fashion houses. Recent music video credits include Florence and the Machine, Young Fathers and Jungle whilst choreographing films for Dior, Gucci, Paul Smith and Claire Barrow. 2016 saw Blakey win a UK MVA award for her work on Delilah (Florence and the Machine) for ' Best Choreography in a Video', she was also nominated as 'Best New Director.’ Blakey is known for her live collaborations with visual artists such as Hannah Perry (Serpentine Galleries, Boiler Room, CFA Berlin) and Jala Wahid (Serpentine Galleries), but equally her long standing practice with Gwilym Gold, Darkstar and Mica Levi for both video work and live performance.
Mica Levi is a musician and composer based in London. She along with Marc Pell and Raisa Khan formed the band Micachu and The Shapes in 2008, releasing albums Jewellery (2009); Never (2012); and Good Happy Sad Bad (2015). Levi has written and produced film scores for Under the Skin (2013) directed by Jonathan Glazer; and Jackie (2016) directed by Pablo Larraín, for which she was nominated for an Academy award and anime delete Beach (Phil colons 2016). She co runs CURL a music collective with Coby Sey and Brother May. In 2017 wrote the music for Inna, an Opera written by Dean Blunt.