(Clearwisdom.net) Shen Yun Performing Arts of New York returned to America's premier theater, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, with a VIP-only performance, the first of its seven scheduled shows. More than one thousand VIPs in Washington, DC, were fascinated by the unique show.

 Former U.S. Senator and founder of the Democracy Foundation Mr. Mike Gravel (picture source: Wikipedia)

Mr. Mike Gravel, a former US Senator (1969-1981) and founder of the Democracy Foundation, attended the exclusive performance on August 25.

Mr. Gravel said, "It's been a long time since I've been to a performance, and I was just taken away by the color and the cleverness of the presentation... It was fantastic, the choreography, the colors!"

He couldn't say enough to compliment Shen Yun, and recommended it to all, "I just compliment the cast, the producers, the choreographers--it's a great show and I recommend it highly!

"When you saw the mountain fall down, and the cleverness of having these people go into the moon or sky and then come back, and walk up on the stage, that's clever. All I can say is [it's] very clever. And it focuses your attention [on] what are they going to do next," Mr. Gravel said, recalling a scene in "Monk Ji Gong Abducts the Bride" and other scenes on the backdrop throughout the show.

Mr. Gravel mentioned the two Shen Yun performance pieces that depict the human rights abuses against the spiritual practice Falun Gong that is currently going on in China. "I am very, very concerned about the human rights aspect of it and the freedom of religion aspect of it (Falun Gong)." The pieces "Persecuted on a Sacred Path" and "Dignity and Compassion" show Falun Gong practitioners' great compassion and tolerance facing the brutal persecution in China and their steadfast faith.

Mr. Richard Livingston has worked in the Foreign Service at the State Department for 27 years and in many Asian countries. Though retired, he still serves in the State Department. He described the show as "spectacular and wonderful."

Mr. Livingston was most impressed with the emotion in the show. The piece "Compassion and Dignity" showed a woman practitioner being beaten in jail. A jailer felt sympathy for her, and when it was time for him to pay for his sins, the Falun Gong practitioner saved him. Mr. Livingston said he got the message of compassion that she showed. He added, "I'm not supposed to say this as a man, but tears do well up in my eyes when I see the hostility and the mistreatment of people, and in the end how they can still have hope." He enjoyed the show very much and said he will recommend it to his friends.

Among the distinguished guests at the Kennedy Center was Vivian Watts of the nearby 39th District Virginia Legislature. "I found it absolutely exquisite," she said, "The talent of all the performances, the quality of the work. It was also very inspirational!

"I've seen a little bit [of Chinese performance], but never that kind of history of dance," she said, referring to the two emcees who spoke in both Chinese and English. She praised the explanations of "the elements of Chinese history and tradition.

"The hope that was represented in the messages. The ongoing centuries of tradition and spirit carrying from one life to another--all very inspirational," she said.

Ms. Watts shared the enthusiasm of the audience, who applauded through two curtain calls. "I think the whole thing ... the color, and the wonderful form and great talent of each of the individuals was something I will really carry away with me. I regard myself as being very, very fortunate--very lucky--to have this opportunity."