April 13, 2013
Counterpulse, San Francisco CA
“Mago, the Korean creator goddess, sits knitting her long hair, singing an ancient ocean lullaby and sending seeds out into the world.”
Dohee is multitalented, and her work in progress, Mago/Jeju, uses animation, larger than life masks, and powerful voice originating from the beyond to enticingly bring audiences to the present. Moving her body smoothly and direct through space, Lee’s gift to share ancestry & culture through performance is brilliant, conveying the matriarchal history of Korea and the sacredness of their legends.
Filled with thickness of crumbling white paper that sometimes appears as a nightgown, a sea, and a field of dreams, the piece begins with Dohee standing solo embodying the posture of an elderly hard-working woman. Her mask seems larger than life as various sound pitches and tones flood the audience with Korean scripts, which feel like stories of wisdom. Attached to her figure is a long crochet braid in white with some red, possibly representing the cord of life. The waves of light covering the whiteness in the middle of the stage play with our minds and leave us wondering, “Where is She.”
In the second section we see Lee without the mask costumed in a hoop skirt with furry triangular pockets of white. Her breath sometimes long, sometimes short, clouds the atmosphere as the sound score emits heartbeats. She gently shakes parts of her body into psychoactive flurry and the combination of pulse, shaking, & breaths seem to open her and us up to “something”. As the possessive state continues, Lee abruptly recites Korean phrases along with serious and comical facial expressions. Throughout the pieces the sound score keeps us floating in the abyss of ancient ghosts and spirits in the present.
Upon returning from intermission, we were given a talk by two young activists who traveled to Jeju Island, the birth home of Lee, a volcanic island located off the Southern Coast of Korea that presently faces threats of U.S. imperialism. Passionately the speakers show pictures & video of protests from Natives. I love that this presentation was a part of the performance, displaying a more direct call for social justice and preservation of sacred land and customs. Could bringing students out on stage to raise awareness be a new trend?
Lee ends the night with a powerful and exuberant drum performance by Jamaesori, an intergenerational group of women and transgender individuals from the Korean Diaspora. Like a lullaby, Lee’s performance was soothing yet haunting and a powerful example of how dance can educate, experience and share the sacred, both present and past.