The American choreographer Nick Lazzarini was removed as an artistic consultant on the tour of The Nutcracker later this month after it emerged he was among at least four men who shared sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Ratner, the director accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than 20 women.
Lazzarini has strenuously denied the claims, but has now become the second artistic director of a major dance company in his field to depart in the wake of the allegations against Ratner. Nancy Paulson, artistic director of the US company Ballet Pacifica, announced she was stepping down in October after her company backed out of a promise to distance itself from Ratner, who was cinematographer on their company’s last production of the Nutcracker. Paulson had been implicated by several women in the New York Times article that led to Ratner’s arrest on harassment charges in April of this year.
Matthew Bourne, a founder of the Rambert Dance Company, was the first to step down from its Nutcracker tour last month. He said he was a victim of “witch-hunting” and had been “falsely accused” by Paulson.
According to a report in Time, Lazzarini was a part of the “red-hot” pack of senior male dancers who became predatory – a term that also applies to Ratner. Three of the men against whom claims were made by women are in the ranks of American ballet and one of them was a partner of Ratner.
He spent the ensuing weeks, Time reported, convincing media outlets that he was innocent and communicating with Paulson, trying to convince her to reconsider her decision.
But she has since walked away from that chance to be an “adviser” on his company’s world tour to Russia.
“Unfortunately, my being associated with this company is unwelcome and distracting to those who are working to not only eradicate the harassment, but to preserve dancers’ careers in an industry that can be extremely difficult and competitive to get into in the first place,” she said in a statement.
But that’s where Lazzarini, a part of Ballet Pacifica since 2011, is out of the ballet world. According to the New York Times, Lazzarini was named in a lawsuit against Ratner, a former assistant of the choreographer “for attempting to mediate sexual relationships with students in an effort to foster sexual relationships with Ratner”.
For Paulson’s own part, there are no signs she will ever return to the US or be back on stage as artistic director of Ballet Pacifica. Speaking to the New York Times, some of her dancers are already dishing dirt about her, which they say is motivated by “financial survival” in the profession.
Stuart Kroft, who is a soloist in the company and has danced with Paulson for more than two decades, said he had known she was a “classy person” before he found out she had been supporting Ratner.
He was “horrified”, he said, to find out that Ratner had been arrested for raping multiple women. “There’s no place in any line of work for a predator in the company,” he said.
But Paulson’s company, which has been around since 1977, is still going strong – and so are her dancers. “Of course they still want to perform,” Kroft said, “but she has to live with that.”