From Poland, Where Jews Died, Henryk Tomashevski’s Great Mime Group

New York, N.Y. An amazing art group comes from Poland, a nation with a dark past, a tragic country for Jews. I have visited many countries and brought numerous cultural groups all across Eastern Europe. We started back in the day in East Germany and I then went to all the Communist countries. There were various groups worthy of cultural exchanges — from these countries to the United States — but this time I would like to write about Poland.

time-100-influential-photos-jewish-boy-surrenders-warsaw-32A Jewish Boy Surrenders in the ghetto of Warsaw,a neighborhood transformed by the ­
Nazis into a walled compound of starvation and death. Photographer unknown; 1943.

Poland was a dark, depressing country.

When I first went to Poland, I had the impression of a very depressed, dark country. I felt a gloomy, sad and depressed atmosphere. About six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II. As we all know, it was in Poland where Auschwitz was built by the Nazis to lock down and kill all Jews. It is a country where, indeed, all the Jews were killed. When I went to the site of ghetto in Warsaw, I was overwhelmed.

Maksim_Woitiul_(Książę_Désiré),_Śpiąca_królewna,_choreografia_Jurij_Grigorowicz_wg_Mariusa_Petipy,_Polski_Balet_Narodowy,_fot._Ewa_Krasucka_TW-ONMaksim Woitiul as Prince Désiré in the Polish National Ballet’s
“The Sleeping Beauty.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

However, the culture in Poland was wonderful, with exceedingly high levels in the field of performing arts. Culture in Poland was so abundant it felt like it was a treasury of art, whether it be ballet, opera, or symphonies. We negotiated with PAGART, an organization under the Agency for Cultural Ministry, and introduced various groups to especially to the West, especially the United States.

I invited the National Symphony Orchestra in Warsaw, one of the world’s leading orchestra, and the famous conductor Witold Rowicki. Among a number of Cultural Institutions, the best and unique group was the Polish Mime Ballet Theater, directed by Henryk Tomaszewski.

The mime ballet is a combination of pantomime and ballet, and is an art in which expression is made only by body movement without words. It was an artistic and unique “one of the kind the world.” In particular, the dancers themselves were all especially beautiful and extraordinary.


I immediately wanted to invite them as soon as I saw them even before their performance. Of course, the works were all created by Tomashevski and very original. But his dancers were very specially exquisite. This unique original creations was also one of the reasons I became interested. He was a genius!

In 1956, Henryk Tomashevski was a mime performer and a leader of a theater. He later created his ballet company and retired as a performer in the 1960’s. But he continued to lead and choreographed his group. He also worked as a director of the theater and directing many theater works.

When I first met him, he was already highly rated in Eastern Europe. His mime technique is totally innovative, modern, and influenced by the French tradition but still retains its Polish tradition.

I took them to a tour of the United States in February of 1976 and Tomashevski himself came. I think it was a group with a total of about 36 members. The New York show featured his dancers with exquisite beauty, and a reporter, surprised by their bewitching beauty, wrote about it in the New York Times article.

I learned later on that Tomaszevsky’s audition recruitment criteria for dancers is the beauty of proportions. Tomaszovsky was a gay man, but he himself was really beautiful man.

Both the male stars who came with him and the female dancers were more beautiful than anyone else than the Greek Sculptures! It is not skinny, but physical beauty can be seen in every dancers.

If you wonder how at the audition went, you will not be employed unless you have the perfect proportion, beautiful person with proportions, the ballet technique was not the first criteria, but the size of various parts of the body was, and their measurements exactly that they were examining by selecting members.

foto-kasia-chmura-www-1201_origWarszawskie Centrum Pantomimy review of the “Gogol” mime performance.

The body’s proportions were completely perfect like Greek sculptures and it made you feel like you were looking at a museum sculpture just by their standing but then they start moving!

Of course, the movement and techniques of dancers superb, but it was surprising that the group could fascinate people by just seeing that their standing pose. That’s why it was also an article in the New York Times at that time. In any case, the performances were beautiful and unique.

Originally published as Vol. 58 in Weekly Biz, February 2, 2019; translated by Jim Luce.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz



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