Alvin Ailey dancer fired from company following sexual misconduct claims

Nick Lazzarini has been fired from his tour with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, an online publication which first reported his claims against the performance company said on Wednesday. Thursday’s report, from The…

Alvin Ailey dancer fired from company following sexual misconduct claims

Nick Lazzarini has been fired from his tour with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, an online publication which first reported his claims against the performance company said on Wednesday.

Thursday’s report, from The New York Times, said that it has been in touch with several people who knew Lazzarini from the days when he was a dancer with the Ailey company for decades, but declined to go on the record for fear of “social-media retribution.”

“After careful consideration and conversation, the principals have determined that Nick Lazzarini must no longer be with the company,” the company said in a statement obtained by CNN on Wednesday.

Lazzarini broke his silence in a statement published on dance.com Wednesday morning.

“For over two decades now, I have worn many hats, from performer to company member, from freelance to teacher to artistic director,” Lazzarini said. “In my new role as artistic director of Sondheim & Company, all sides have spoken up and have been heard. They have spoken up with feelings, concerns, and professional questions. And after almost 15 years in this company, it’s time to listen, to learn, and to change.”

Lazzarini’s new company, Sondheim & Company, which is based in West Orange, New Jersey, has contracts with various dance schools and dance companies.

“With great regret, I must announce that due to unforeseen artistic differences, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Board of Directors has asked me to step down as artistic director,” he said. “I respect that decision and, although I will miss those young dancers dearly, I know I am leaving the company in the best possible hands.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, based in New York, has embarked on a new tour of its annual summer festival. The summer program, which is called The Nutcracker, is open to the public.

In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Lazzarini said he “begged” the company to include him in a video called “Tribute to 100 Years,” which the Times said was prepared for the company’s upcoming tour, which begins next week. Lazzarini said he was unaware of the video that was reportedly filmed in Germany last December.

“That was really the last straw,” Lazzarini said. “I said, ‘It’s what happened to me in my career that is making it difficult to return.’ “

According to a statement sent to The Times from Ava Ailey, the organization’s president and CEO, the video “is beautiful and celebrates the amazing work” of the performers. But the company said that it did not want to continue with Lazzarini as artistic director.

The association between Lazzarini and the company began when he served as artistic director of the Ailey company from 1992 to 2004. He then returned in 2013 to become its artistic director and senior guest choreographer.

He officially joined Sondheim & Company in September 2016. Lazzarini took over for former artistic director Jordan Cooper.

Lazzarini said that the position at Sondheim & Company would “definitely” be open to others in the company.

“My experience with Alvin Ailey gave me the encouragement, inspiration, and teaching — as well as the exposure — I needed to learn the program. When the opportunity arose at Sondheim, I jumped on it as a chance to become a full time choreographer as well,” he said.

Lazzarini is the first person to step down from the leadership position following an internal investigation into sexual misconduct, a company spokesman said.

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