Enter the hypnotic world of MK ULTRA. Rosie Kay’s new work, on which cult film-maker Adam Curtis (The Power of Nightmares, HyperNormalisation) is a collaborator, is a high energy, supercharged mash-up of thrilling dance, music and imagery. It is inspired by the bizarre realm of pop culture mind control conspiracies.
Rosie Kay is one of the UK’s leading female choreographers. She is renowned for her athletic movement, rigorous research and intelligent theatricality. Choreographer to the hit film Sunshine on Leith, Kay is best known for the five star award-winning 5 SOLDIERS. Rosie Kay Dance Company won Best Independent Dance Company in the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2016.
MK ULTRA is a CIA code word for a real LSD-fuelled brainwashing technique developed by the US military. Popular conspiracy theory believes that MK ULTRA is still active and programmes certain pop stars as puppets of the Illuminati, a shadowy elite intent on creating a New World Order of authoritarian world government.
Exploring popular culture has never been so odd – a world filled with satanic images, occult messages, hidden symbols and hyper-sexualisation, this stuff is packaged as mainstream and sold across the globe.
Kay, with a typically fearless eye, delves deeply into this world and conjures up something entirely new, subverting the subversive. If you didn’t know about the Illuminati, you soon will and if you did, expect MK ULTRA to shatter the Illuminati’s illusory control.
“It is impossible for anyone to either prove or disprove the existence of a mind-controlling global elite who seek to feed off our freedom. But then, for one night at least, Kay and Curtis have done exactly that, exerting their mind control by delivering an outstanding piece of theatrical performance.” – The Greater Manchester Reviewer
“MK ULTRA is a fine demonstration of the effectiveness of blending disparate elements to create an intoxicating final product.” – Manchester Theatre Awards
“The dancing is flawless, fluid and utterly mesmerising as those on stage move fiercely using their core body strength and strong lifts… There’s not even the faintest bit of disappointment as those in attendance are captivated and left desperately wanting more. A hypnotic performance to say the least.” – Mancunian Matters
“Another ground-breaking performance that the venue is becoming well known for. Whether you subscribe to the conspiracy theory or not, it is an important and compelling production that leaves you questioning whether we are all just being controlled after all.” – Canal Street
“MK Ultra is nothing short of incredible. I like to be confused and moved from my comfort zone in the theatre and this successfully did that. I am currently in a state of ‘what on earth happened to me last night?’… A trip the light fantastic level of weird and confusing – absolutely phenomenal piece of dance… Would highly recommend.” – Afroanalysis
“An incredibly timely performance which employs an intriguing political subject as the inspiration for an innovative piece of contemporary dance… Whilst highlighting the fallacy of the conspiracy theories surrounding the CIA project, Kay and Curtis display the logic of the hysterical thinking in which these beliefs were formed.” – The Manchester Review
★★★★ “A super-saturated sensory feast of movement, sound and imagery.” – The Financial Times
★★★★ “MK Ultra asks important questions about the real and the fake, and whether, for a new generation, they’ve become one.” – The Observer
“An exceptionally stylish production.” – The Guardian
“Bold, slick dance piece exploring conspiracy theories and the Illuminati.” – The Stage
“They are fierce movers, performing their routines and rituals dressed in catsuits covered with mystical imagery, like a rave version of the Masons.” – Evening Standard
“A supremely slick, glossy and confrontational piece of work that combines exciting dance with fascinating ideas” – British Theatre Guide
“Bold new dance exploring mind control and the illuminati from Rosie Kay… It’s been obvious for some time that Rosie Kay is a choreographic force to be reckoned with, and the world premiere of her new show MK ULTRA confirms this completely. A masterpiece from one of the genre’s experts. Watch out, Rosie Kay is the biz.” – Seeing Dance
★★★★ “Rosie Kay never shies away from delving into complex and often challenging subjects, MK ULTRA is no different… The dancers were themselves a work of art, dressed in amazingly stunning body suits covered in symbols and designs… After watching MK ULTRA, it definitely leaves the audience asking the question is there somebody controlling the way we live our lives?” – StageTalk
★★★★ “Rarely has a performance felt so apt, or revealed so much about the world in which it is being created and performed, than MK ULTRA… An incredible, eye-opening production which lingers on the mind.” – Birmingham What’s On
★★★★ “The choreography certainly pushes the boundaries of the human body and the technique to translate it to her performers was technical in itself… The real difficulty of separating truth from spin or even outright lies is becoming increasingly hard to do, but ironically each speculation adds to more conspiracy. Is it real or is it fake? Any conversation perpetuates the mystery and debate… MK ULTRA is actually adding to that.” – Behind the Arras
“Judging by the more than lively question-and-answer session afterwards in the bar with [Rosie] Kay, her dancers and the show’s creative collaborator, BBC documentary film-maker Adam Curtis, head and heart were engaged, but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth around us could now be anything but the truth.” – York Press
Supported by Arts Council England. Commissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, DanceXchange, Warwick Arts Centre & HOME.