PHOENIX—Steve Kates, better known publicly on radio and television as Dr. Sky for his educational science programs, came to the Orpheum Theatre April 6 for the second time in one week to watch Shen Yun Performing Arts, which was sold out.
“What I saw here tonight for the second time is as equally impressive as what I saw the first time—amazing choreographed dancing, amazing colors, amazing total coordination. It is just absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“It should be seen twice, or three times by people—absolutely. And I’m hoping to come back,” Mr. Kates added after learning that Shen Yun creates an entirely new production each year. “So imagine what that’ll be like. It was absolutely beautiful and I’m grateful to be here,” he said.
Mr. Kates, who is also president of DrSky.com and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Educator, felt that Shen Yun carried a message of freedom.
“The message that I got out of Shen Yun is that people in the world want to be free, and what I respect is that this whole dance troupe and this whole organization put this fantastic program on not only to show us the beauty of dance—the sights and sounds experience, but to send the message that people in the world want to be free. And I think that’s so important,” he said.
He understands, knowing the People’s Republic of China, that “so many people may not have the experience that we do here in America to be free,” he said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based, classical Chinese dance and music company that tours throughout the world each year on its mission to revive the sublime beauty and values of traditional Chinese culture.
Despite receiving overwhelming, critical acclaim worldwide by artists and theatergoers and having sold-out venues, Shen Yun cannot perform in China, due the communist regime’s censorship and repression of artistic expression.
A Shen Yun performance primarily includes classical Chinese, folk, and ethnic dance, and each piece is accompanied by a full, live orchestra.
Mr. Kates brought with him to the performance close friends and a colleague who is a sound expert. He wanted them to see and hear Shen Yun.
“The orchestra—magnificent because if you closed your eyes, you would feel that you were totally in a different place. What’s fascinating about this [is that] this is not piped-in music off of a computer,” he said. “And the people need to know this. [It’s] an absolutely fantastic orchestra. So we enjoyed it—sight, sound; the whole experience is just a beautiful thing.”
The Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra is unique because it seamlessly combines classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments. A full, Western orchestra works as the foundation, while Chinese instruments lead the melodies. The company website states, “The sound produced is uniquely pleasing to the ear. The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra and the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization.”
Through approximately 20 vignettes, Shen Yun transports audiences on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.
A well known Taiwanese calligrapher who recently watched Shen Yun described the performance as “More legendary than legends.”
Since ancient times, China has been referred to as the “Celestial Kingdom,” a unique land where the divine and mortals coexisted. It was believed that Chinese culture—its music, clothing, inventions, and value system—were gifts from the heavens. Belief in and reverence of the divine and Heaven were overarching understandings in traditional Chinese culture.
Mr. Kates felt that the universality of dance and music created a divine experience.
He brought a new Chinese friend to see Shen Yun last week, “and she was very impressed,” he said. “And what I found equally impressive is [that] she doesn’t speak the English language, just like I don’t speak Mandarin very well. So we have a communication barrier or a gap. So what I heard here, and what I saw, was absolutely wonderful because if it can bring cultures together through sight, through dance, and through this whole experience that we saw here.”
Mr. Kates is Christian, and although the spirituality portrayed in Shen Yun is from the School of Buddhism, its universality resonated with him.
“I thought of it as a divine experience because it’s very spiritual, and that’s the message that I wanted to leave you with, that I felt it’s very spiritual.”
“As a Christian, I think more Christians should see this show because I think we’re in the same parallel universe. We’re not opposite each other,” he said. “It’s like two train tracks—one side, one side—but they go in the same direction, and that direction is to a better world or to a better [place] hereafter.
“There’s more to this world than what we see in the world of money and [high] positions,” he continued. “So what good is all that if you didn’t treat the other person well? So I got that as a spiritual message. In other words, for me, … it’s [about] being Christ-like. What does that mean? Obviously, people know, but for those that may not, it’s about being kind, it’s about being humble, it’s about sharing, and it’s about loving.”
Reporting by Youzhi Ma and Albert Roman
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.