delving into the illuminati

Enter the hypnotic world of MK ULTRA. Rosie Kay’s new work 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.

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.

Choreographer & Director: Rosie Kay
Producer: James Preston
Performers: Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis, Shelley Eva Haden, Lizzie Klotz, Joao Maio, Ryan Munroe, Oliver Russell
Composer: Annie Mahtani
Costumer Designer: Gary Card
Set and Video Designer: Louis Price
Lighting Designer: Mike Gunning
Dramaturg: Tessa Walker
Creative Collaborator: Adam Curtis

2017 Creation and Tour
Funded by Arts Council England
Commissioned by DanceXchange, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Warwick Arts Centre

Thanks to all our Crowdfunder supporters
Anderson, Anne Scott, Cath Kay, Chris Unitt, Christopher Kerry, Gregor Colville, Helen Kay, Jenny Smith, John Anderson, Natasha & Gavin, Richard Lee, Robert & Alison, Simon Broadbridge and anonymous donors.

Research and development phases
Funded by Arts Council England
Supported by danceXchange and Dance Base

“a wildly ambitious new work….a postmodern fantasia”

MK Ultra asks important questions about the real and the fake, and whether, for a new generation, they’ve become one.”


The Observer

“Extraordinary….a super-saturated sensory feast of movement, sound and imagery”


The Financial Times

“In a stylish collaboration, the film-maker [Adam Curtis] and choreographer [Rosie Kay] explore the myth of a shadowy cult attempting world domination through mass brainwashing”

The Guardian

Following in-depth research, award winning choreographer Kay (and former artist in residence at the University of Oxford) discovered that there was a huge divide between those who were aware of the illuminati saturation in pop music; the under 25’s, and those who weren’t; the over 25’s. Shocked and excited to be exploring such an important subject matter, Kay found that young people were engaged, political, cynical and frightened by what they believed, what they suspected and what they could know for certain. When consulting the over 25’s, Kay discovered a general sense of unease, but very little real knowledge of what this world looks and feels like.