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United States and United Kingdom are investigating former dancer, but dancer has ‘no issue with change in law’, says lawyer
Dance company pulls Lazzarini from tour after multiple new allegations against former star
A leading classical ballet company has withdrawn its choreographer from the 2018-19 season and announced the launch of an investigation into multiple new sexual harassment claims against him.
Nick Lazzarini is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, where he has worked since 2009, and director of New York City Opera, but he has been taken off the upcoming company tour, which will begin in October in Rome and tour internationally, which already has the New York City Ballet and Britain’s National Ballet of Scotland performing.
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“The board of directors of the New York City Ballet have suspended the company’s agreement with Nick Lazzarini,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
“There are multiple new allegations of sexual harassment that arise as a result of new allegations made by multiple women in the media and in television documentary.”
It did not name the television programme, but a report in the New York Times and an interview with the dancer Shyla Lazzarini, his sister, in the Wall Street Journal have cited several new accusers.
Shyla Lazzarini told the Journal that he had inappropriately touched her as a child and made comments about her body, including making her take off her clothes on a pool table and telling her she was too fat to dance.
“He has no issue with the change in law or with the obvious need for change,” the dancer’s lawyer, Mark Jay Heller, told the Associated Press.
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“He’s a man who appreciates the differences that exist between an artistic director and a choreographer and is concerned about how his conduct is reflected in how he’s portrayed as a choreographer.”
According to the New York City Ballet’s statement, Lazzarini started work on the tour in November and the series of performances began on 14 January in Monte Carlo.
The company said it is cooperating with investigations by the US and British governments into claims made against Lazzarini.
He retired as a principal dancer from the New York City Ballet in August, citing age and injury.
Lazzarini also retired from the Philadelphia Ballet in 2015 following accusations of inappropriate touching, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m a good guy. I’m very sorry to any woman who has ever felt under attack,” Lazzarini told the Journal, which cited allegations of previous sexual misconduct.
Lazzarini did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.