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Israeli Dance Troupe Visiting Poland

March 12, 1986

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Miriam Pascalsky, a soloist with the Bat-Dor Dance Company of Tel Aviv, returned to Warsaw on Tuesday for the first time since she emigrated to Israel with her parents in 1950 at age 6.

Miss Pascalsky said she never expected to perform in Poland with Bat-Dor, the first Israeli cultural group to visit Poland since Warsaw and most of the Soviet bloc severed ties with Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

″For me, it is so exciting, it’s like coming back to my childhood,″ said Miss Pascalsky. On Tuesday, she visited her family’s former apartment in Warsaw, speaking in broken Polish to its occupants.

″I think it’s beautiful to start the relationship,″ said Miss Pascalsky, who as a baby was hidden by a Polish Catholic family to escape the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.

Bat-Dor received an enthusiastic seven-minute ovation Tuesday evening for its first of two sold-out performances at Warsaw’s Grand Theater. Several hundred people without tickets were turned away at the door.

Among those attending the opening night performance were Barbara Jaruzelski, wife of the Polish leader, and several government officials, including Minister of Culture Kazimierz Zygulski.

Bat-Dor will also perform in Lodz and Gdynia and visit the former Treblinka Nazi death camp before ending its tour of Poland next week.

The 45-member company’s 26 dancers include an Egyptian guest performer, Reda Sheta, and artistic director Jeannette Ordman. It will perform works by Israeli choreographers and others.

Barry Swersky, Bat-Dor’s general manager, said the contemporary dance company’s performances would be ″a manifestation of modern Israel and not of the ancient Jewish culture that comes from Poland.

″It’s always nice to be a pioneer and ... for many of us the visit to Poland is significant in that its the first socialist country in which a major Israeli cultural event is taking place,″ he said. ″One hopes that such visible cultural relations will make a political thaw much easier.″

The visit by Bat-Dor is a result of an agreement reached between Poland and Israel last October to exchange low-level diplomats and develop cultural ties.

Israel viewed the agreement as heralding a thaw in ties with the Soviet bloc which might lead to renewed links with Moscow. But no other East bloc nation has renewed ties, and Israel and Poland have not exchanged visa officers.

Polish government spokesman Jerzy Urban told reporters Tuesday that ″nothing has happened to complicate″ the exchange of visa officers in the two capitals but said ″technical″ matters remain to be discussed.

Urban denied that the performances by Bat-Dor and other Israeli artistic groups expected to visit Poland have any political significance.

″If there is the expression ‘pingpong diplomacy’ in diplomacy, Poland is not a place where the expression ‘ballet diplomacy’ will be born,″ said Urban, referring to the visit by a U.S. pingpong team to China in the early 1970s that paved the way for renewed diplomatic relations between the two countries.

He said Poland was in favor of increased cultural exchanges with Israel ″since there are many people in Israel who speak Polish and are of Polish origin.″

In December, Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki visited Israel to perform an opera and a play. The Polish Chamber Orchestra and Mazowsze Dance Company will visit Israel in May.

About 10 percent of the Polish population of 30 million was Jewish before World War II. Most of the nearly 200,000 Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland emigrated to Israel after the war or were driven out in 1968 during a wave of anti-semitism. Today there are about 5,000 Jews in Poland.

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