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British Ballet Company Pirouettes on a Cultural Tour of Israel

Dancers of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, one of Britain’s premier ballet companies, have provisionally decided to go ahead with a tour of Israel which on Monday they decided to cancel because of fear of Arab terrorism.

Reversing their earlier decision, some 80 of the Sadler’s Wells dancers on Thursday voted to send three of their members to Israel to see whether their security could be ensured during next month’s tour, for which 15,000 tickets have already been sold.

The company is scheduled to give six performances of Swan Lake, one in Jerusalem and the others at the spectacular Roman amphitheater in Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, as part of the Israel Arts Festival.

President Chaim Herzog and Premier Shimon Peres are scheduled to attend the first night in Caesarea on June 7. Cancellation of the tour would have soured the atmosphere during a visit by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher which to begin in nine days’ time. It would also have been a deep embarrassment to Thatcher at a time when she is trying to convince Americans not to cancel their holidays in Europe because of exaggerated fears of terrorism.

STORM OF PROTEST ERUPTS

A storm of protest broke out Wednesday after it was confirmed that the ballet dancers had decided Monday to give in to fears of terrorism by cancelling their tour.

In reconsidering their decision, the dancers yielded to an appeal by London impresario Victor Hochhauser, who arranged the visit and also offered to charter a private aircraft for them as an added precaution.

Disappointment at the ballet company’s hesitations was also voiced by the British Council, the government-backed cultural organization which is sponsoring the tour. The Council had also backed a visit to the Soviet Union by another leading British ballet company which has been cancelled following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.

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