Bal Polski, until 2006 known as the Emigré Ball, is a charity gala ball and highlight of the Polish social and cultural calendar, bringing together the Polish community in Great Britain.
The Polish Ball, which traditionally begins with a Polonaise, has always been held in the most elegant of London hotels. The first Ball took place at the Royal Lancaster hotel in 1970, and thereafter the Ball took place at the Royal Garden Hotel, the Grosvenor House Hotel and The Savoy. The name of the Ball was changed to The Polish Ball to reflect the transformation of the structure and nature of the Polish community in Britain brought about by the changing political climate in Poland and Poland’s entry into the European Union.
The Ball under the patronage of the Polish Ambassador. For many years Bal Polski enjoyed the additional patronage of the Polish President, Ryszard Kaczorowski, and his wife. The honorary patron of the 36th Polish Emigré Ball, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement, was President Lech Wałęsa. Until 2017 Ball took place in partnership with the Federation of Poles in Great Britain. from 2018 the Ball is an activity of Bal Polski CIC, a member association of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain.
The first chair of the organising committee was Maria Lesniakowa. Over the next twenty years the artist Ewa Rusiecka and her husband Stanisław managed the Ball with great dedication. After her death in 1999 Ewa was succeeded by Małgorzata Sztuka. From 2000 to 2013 the organisation of the Ball was managed by a committee presided over by Krystyna Ostaszewska, Wiesia Hanke, Ewa Butryn.
The 46th Polish Ball is organised by the Organising Committee under the Chairmanship of Jolanta Piesakowska Jackson and Honorary Committee Member Jolanta Rzegocka. Secretary: Ewa Cross, Bursar: Dorota Sztorc. 46 Bal Polski Organising Committee members: Marlena Anderson, Marzena Korzeniowska, Anna Lichtarowicz-Piesakowska, Janusz Marszewski, Stuart Ryland, Jarek Skreta.
GALA CHARITY BALL
The proceeds of the Ball are always donated to charitable causes. For over 20 years the Ball supported the Treasury of the Polish Government in exile, and thereafter the Fund for Poles residing to the East of Poland. In recent years we have supported, among others:
- The Polish Educational Society
- The Polish Library in London
- The Polish Daily
- The Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales
- The Federation of Polish Authors Abroad
- “Syrena”, the Polish Youth Theatre
- Polish Youth Theatre groups in London
- Polish Dancing groups
- The Polish Scout movement
- The Medical Aid for Poland Fund
- The Polish Division of St Johns Ambulance
- Children’s Hospital in Lublin, Poland
- Nowe życie bez Przemocy
- The Alina Foundation
- Stowarzyszenie Pomocy Osobom Autystycznym
- Ośrodek Szkolno-Wychowawczy dla Dzieci Niewidomych im. Róży Czackiej w Laskach
- Stroke Association
Since 2000 a theme has been chosen to celebrate either an important anniversary or a relevant cultural event, such as a feast with Pan Tadeusz, an evening with Jan Kiepura, Quo Vadis, Poland’s entry into the European Union, the 60th anniversary of the battle for Monte Casino, the 25th anniversary of Solidarity, the year of General Anders, Marie-Curie-Skłodowska anniversary, the year of the musician and composer Witold Lutoslawski.
The Polish Emigré Ball was created through the initiative of post WWII Polish émigrés, who for many years supported it through their continued participation. During the 1980s the post Solidarity emigrés joined in, at the same time participation was augmented by 2nd generation Poles, children of the post war emigrés, born in Great Britain. Today we celebrate the Bal Polski tradition alongside post- accession Poles and even 3rd generation Poles have begun to continue the custom of participation in the Bal Polski.