Photo by Eugene Kim
I was born on Jeju Island, South Korea and spent the first part of my life in Korea training in the practices of Korean traditional music and dance, and the ritual practices of Korean Shamanism.
Instead of continuing a career as a touring traditional artist in Korea, I immigrated to Oakland, CA in 2002 to follow my life path – creating a new ritual performance form, combining my training in ancient shamanic ritual practices with post-modern performance styles and electronics.
In Oakland, I became a traditional Korean music and dance instructor and began immersing myself in contemporary performance forms. I formed my first performance series, Puri Project, in 2004, leading to collaborations with Kronos Quartet, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Larry Ochs, inkBoat, Asian Improv Arts, Anna Halprin, Amara Tabor Smith, Tatsu Aoki and many others in the new music/performance world.
For the past 9 years, I have worked closely with Anna Halprin. I have danced in her productions and I am now on teaching staff at Tamalpa Institute. She has become an important teacher and mentor to me.
I founded Dohee Lee Puri Arts in 2014 as a producing organization for my community projects here in the Bay Area and for touring my multimedia performance pieces and teaching workshops. The mission of Puri Arts is to practice and perform art to commune and heal with people and spirits. The organization utilizes ritual to heal fractured relationships in the urban environment between humans and the land and between individuals and their communities. Our original performance works emphasize the mythical, experimental, ritualistic, historical and healing aspects of performance and installation, catalyzing new relationships between identity, nature, spirituality, and the political.
My current project, MU/巫, pilots a shamanic model of utilizing traditional arts and culture for engaging immigrant and refugee groups. I am collaborating with local immigrant and refugee community groups to tell their migration journey stories. Together, we are creating new myths to carry our cultures, identity, and languages and reflect our stories in the USA.
We are developing performance-based community rituals in an extended process of collective healing. This is a community engagement strategy to lift up and support the leadership, visibility and voices of diverse immigrant and refugee communities. Through reclaiming our own myths, we also honor indigenous land, people and their myths.