By Nick Lazzarini was pulled from a tour with his company part way through rehearsals, meaning Dance Umbrella festival has had to cancel some performances
Choreographer Nick Lazzarini has been pulled from his company’s tour because of an investigation into a possible violation of its code of conduct.
The dancer, choreographer and one of Australia’s most celebrated talents is known to a large number of Australians, mostly from his small company, Lazzarini Performing Arts. He is also co-founder of acclaimed ballet company, School of American Ballet.
Lazzarini was performing in a troupe with his company in Oslo, Norway, when the production company withdrew its services on Saturday. A tour featuring his company, Lazzarini Performing Arts and School of American Ballet was scheduled to visit New York and New Jersey for various performances at the annual Dance Umbrella festival over the next two weeks.
But organisers were forced to cancel some of the performances, stating that the change was due to the “unforeseen event” involving Lazzarini, who is a New York dancer and director at the American Ballet Theatre.
Dance Umbrella artistic director, Brent Petry, revealed in an interview with ABC News Radio that Lazzarini was chosen to perform in the all-female Swan Lake production.
“He was with a company of female dancers,” Petry said. “He was dancing solo, then subsequently what the company did was they asked him to go back to rehearsals, and he was set to take one of the roleings.
“The circumstances that we’ve found and the circumstances that those dancers are finding … is very, very difficult. It’s a terrible situation.”
Lazzarini himself has acknowledged the decision to suspend him “with extreme regret”.
“This is a very sad moment for all the dancers involved,” Lazzarini said in a statement to the ABC. “It is also a sad moment for all of the dancers who wish to continue the tour.”
Lazzarini said he had not violated a code of conduct set up within the company, although he added that while it is a “good practice” for dancers to “cooperate fully” with investigations, that he was not aware of the processes already in place.
“I’ve done nothing to put the dancers in a position where they would be in a bad position and I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt in trusting me to do the right thing,” he said.
“From my point of view it’s a difficult situation. There’s some things that I wish that my company didn’t have to be put in the position that they’re in today.”
The dancers who remain on tour have yet to be told of the reasoning behind the decision. While the festival has cancelled performances at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Roseland on 8 and 9 January, Petry said the rest of the cancelled events would take place in New York in February.
Petry told the ABC the timing of the decision was difficult because New York’s winter weather is set to bring snow in the days following the postponement.
There have been complications from the past when a DANCE Umbrella-sponsored event was cancelled because an “action had been taken by members of the United States Congress that made the event unsafe”.
An adverse ruling by the US justice department was later overturned in 2012 when it was found that the dancers were not held liable for the decision.