MU/巫: 9 Goddesses is a new, ritual outdoor and theater performance — a shamanic experience where ancestral traditions are transmuted through dance, singing, drumming, and electronic soundscapes, with immersive video and stage design, and community participation.
The compositional structure will follow the form of a traditional Korean shamanic village healing ritual. The audience sings and moves together creating powerful communal experience.
Dohee transforms into 9 goddesses from past, present and future, transporting audiences on a mythological journey of ancestral legacies and indigenous resistance.
Born of old and new myth, the goddesses are guardians for the modern age. Each embodies ecological, political, economic and spiritual struggles and shines a light on how we may continue to the future. One example: Obangshinjang 5-Directional General goddess, who helps the community to confront the issues of immigrant and refugee equality, reconnecting cultural legacy from their own roots, and militarism.
The performance will feature Dohee Lee solo sections, as well as group sections with as many as 50 community performers on stage.
There are at least 18,000 deities on Jeju Island and no one knows how many different rituals. Even as I go back to my homeland to study every year, I am discovering completely new ritualistic realms.
Last year in Jeju, I experienced a ritual that completely changed my perspective and shifted the course of what I am doing in my work here, in Oakland.
For many years, I have been working on rituals with the intention of making connection. In this case, connection means bringing the community together in collective action, balancing disparate facets of humanity, society, nature, and spirituality. If the community is to thrive and sustain itself, there must be balance. When these facets are fractured, life goes out of balance.
When I saw this ritual, I wept, and my tears poured into my heart. This confirmed the function of my art form to serve as the connector. I saw all these worlds as a system – Creation to Earth; Land to Village; People to Nature; Body of Earth to Universe; Life to Death. The infinite threads of life traverse all dimensions.
The indigenous beliefs of Jeju look at the universe based in equality – as if all those realms are equal. People are NOT more important than nature. When people do not take responsibility for nature, this creates imbalance and the community suffers as a result. With this, the ritual is designed to bring these worlds into one space, to balance everything on an equal, horizontal plane.
The diagram above is a map of the universe. Everything is connected through MU:영매.
Balancing the worlds is the path to healing the Earth. We can weave the connections of these worlds through the threads of our stories. In our stories, time (past, present, and future) and space meet. Ancestors and people meet. Dangkuel is a space for greeting and grieving our invited deities, spirits, and ancestors. This space is a convergence place between their time and ours, a festival where we meet and connect.
Dangkuel creates the universe. Kuendae (flag) symbolizes the bridge between the past and present. We set a path for our ancestors to liberate their suppressed stories and spirits.
Winter Ritual 2019:
CoRazOn Collective Performers:
Amy Lam, Dohee Lee, Eun-Joung Lee, Frances Cachapero, Laura Coelho, Judy Jun, Trang Tran
Storytellers (Bay Area Bhutanese Youth)
Fruitvale Youth Make History
Concept/Artistic Direction: Dohee Lee
Ritual of Music/Dance: Dohee Lee
Production Manager: Lauren Geiger
Music/Sound Design: Adria Otte
Stage/Lighting Design: Jose Maria Francos
Costume: Dana Kawano, Dohee Lee
Installation Design: Dohee Lee, Dana Kawano
Installation Assistants: Yeji Jung, Susanne Takehara
Visual Projection Design: Carole Kim
Promotional Photos: Jino Han
Installation & Performance Photography: Eugene Kim, Scott Tsuchitani
MU/巫: 9 Goddesses is a collaboration between Puri Arts, Peralta Hacienda Historical Park and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, supported by funding from Hewlett 50 Arts Commission in Music, NEFA National Dance Project, MAP Fund, Guggenheim Foundation, California Arts Council Cultural Pathways, and our generous Puri Arts community.