MK Ultra

Student Ambassador Review: Rosie Kay's MK Ultra

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If you like your dance high energy, primal and evocative, then don’t miss out on Rosie Kay Dance Company’s MK ULTRA.

The title, and indeed the whole show, weaves ideas about mind-control, pop culture and conspiracy theories to question what is really real. Although the premise is interesting and the audio-visuals that narrate and inform you throughout the show very intriguing, it is the dance that captivates. Wearing neck to toe polyester catsuits with pyramids, butterflies and various other Illuminati symbols emblazoned all over it, the dancers are carried by an astounding frenetic energy, performing choreography which feels instinctive and primal; the dancing is at once strange and familiar. It could look, at any point, like a ’80’s aerobics video, a club-floor dance off, a gymnastics routine or an outpouring of true, human emotion. The set features a highly reflective floor, a throne-like chair and a backdrop of pulsating images and videos. The backdrop is limited to just a triangle of projection, which cleverly adds to the visual imagery but never detracts from the dancers themselves.

You’re drawn into a world that you don’t fully understand. You can weave a narrative from the moves of the dancers; the downfall of a pop princess, the clutch of mind conditioning, the burnt out starlet. But even if you can’t add sense to the chaos, the madness itself is enthralling, hypnotic. The language of the movements even when not fully understood, allows a sense of aesthetic pleasure.

It’s rewarding to see a dance show which feels almost like physical theatre in its cohesion, grace and story-telling. A stunning mixture of ballet, urban dance, and physicalisation, it’s difficult to say what the production is, because it’s so many different things and its own thing at the same time. No-one could walk away from the show bored or without a lot to say.

MK Ultra is showing at Warwick Arts Centre until Fri 12 May 2017.