When performance artist Sara Cowdell was offered a free ticket to Little Mix's 2017 concert, she hesitated.

The British girl group – Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson – might be one of the biggest pop acts in the world but Cowdell had issues. She was a little confused about how these highly-sexualised young women call themselves feminists and talk about female empowerment when they appeared to be allergic to clothes and always looked Instagram perfect. Surely this was sending mixed messages to the group's mainly young female fans?

Of course, Cowdell wasn't – isn't – the only one asking these questions but, as she was about to see, contradiction is the way of the world. She went to the Little Mix concert and found herself having The Best Time Ever.

"I absolutely loved it! It was like we were all together, as one, and the excitement ...


"And looking at the women on stage presenting themselves without any shame or hesitation and just seeming to have the best time."

So Cowdell decided to embrace the ambiguity and, then aged 26, become a Little Mix fan. Two years on, she's made her own show which she wanted to call The Little Mix Tribute Show but changed her mind on because, she says, it's not exactly that.

Instead the show, now called Power, is "a work in celebration of synchronised dance moves and emotional feminist rants" which puts hip thrusts and song alongside unapologetically honest, righteously angry and sometimes fun stories of being young women in a "patriarchal weirdo world".

Five of Little Mix's songs – Hair, Touch, No More Sad Songs, Black Magic, Power and Strip – are used by performers Cowdell, Emma Mcguire, Talia Carlisle and Elizabeth Connor as the basis for telling their own stories.

Cowdell says it's about admitting and learning to live with the multiple and contradictory feelings that run through all our bodies and finding a way to recognise and revel in them. Which is what she intends to do.

"I hope it's really energetic, joyful and makes people think about life's contradictions."

Cowdell says although pop music is often dismissed as superficial, light, fluffy and even empty, it's the soundtrack to entire generations' lives and shouldn't be a guilty pleasure but something that is celebrated and openly enjoyed.

So, would she ever want to be part of a "girl group" like Little Mix?


"I always wished I could sing! It's been something I've wanted to do my whole life but I just can't so maybe this is partly an ode to my 14-year-old self …"


What: Power
Where & when: Basement Theatre, Tuesday, July 16 – Saturday, July 20