MK ULTRA: how musical influence becomes a score

Friday, November 2, 2018 - 16:28

MK ULTRA by Rosie Kay Dance Company is a remarkable and distinct dance work, bringing together choreographer’s Rosie Kay’s exploration of the rise of the illuminati conspiracy in modern culture, with documentary elements from the celebrated filmmaker Adam Curtis.

The performance, which came to Southbank Centre in November 2018, explores the the rise of a strange, dark myth of our time. How, as millions of young people turn away from the established political systems, they are embracing bizarre conspiracies that they see hidden in the culture and music that surrounds them.

Scoring such a unique and visually arresting performance piece was a difficult challenge, with a need for a soundtrack that encapsulated the darkness and mysteriousness of the show’s influence, but was also high-tempo enough to drive forward the dancers’ movements. The challenge for creating this distinctive sound, drawing on Kay’s preferred world of pop, mash-up and EDM, fell to composer and sound artist Anni Mahtani.

Rosie has been working with various tracks from Trap and Footwork genres... I’ve used these tracks as starting points for my work by taking tiny samples and manipulating them using various processes… from simply stretching them or changing their pitch to granulation.
Annie Mahtani on developing the MK ULTRA soundtrack


Rosie Kay Dance Company - MK ULTRA, touring 2017 by Rosie Kay Dance Company


At different points in the score, the music takes on different roles. At some points I’m trying to create a specific environment, at others a deeper insight into the characters.
Annie Mahtani, on her soundtrack for MK ULTRA


MK ULTRA - excerpts from composer Annie Mahtani's tracks by Rosie Kay Dance Company


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