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.

henryk-tomaszewski-mime-c82e23ac-9619-4941-bec1-14ad9ce00b1-resize-750

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

(ニューヨークビズ!)

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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

View all posts by Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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