Lazzarini, 34, was responsible for filming the series but apparently showed little interest in the choreography
Choreographer Nick Lazzarini has been forced to withdraw from the Australian Dance Theatre’s West End production of In the Heights, following the News of the World newspaper’s investigation into his connections to the New York ballet director Rafael Bonachela.
On 19 December, RTL/ITV News revealed that Lazzarini, the director of the company, appeared in a picture posted to Instagram, with the Hebrew word for the Seder meal, something he is known to have recently attended. In the photograph, the message read: “Today’s lunch was amazing. Had the time of my life. It was a unique experience singing and dancing in an old house. These were 30s and 40s dancers who used to instruct me in dance. Even better singing. I still love you guys & I hope you love me too. #NohHartzol.”
In the follow-up story by News of the World, the newspaper posted images of photographs of Lazzarini, Bonachela and another ballet dancer, Maria Choucroun. They have now been revealed to feature performances Lazzarini, Bonachela and Choucroun performed in with US dance company Ballet Hispanico last year.
Lazzarini, 34, is said to have shown little interest in the choreography of In the Heights, despite being in charge of the choreography and camera crew of the cast.
Speaking on ABC’s The Drum, which was very critical of Lazzarini, dancer Alana Mulligan said: “Everyone was talking about it, everyone was making jokes and how Nick was so unsure of the choreography … he was so worried about, ‘Oh I might be too sensitive for this, I might be too exposed, or I might be too young’, and I was like, ‘The people who came before you, you are more prepared than all of them.’”
The anonymous dancer added that “Nick was having a whole conversation with the whole Ballet Hispanico team about the vocal arrangement and the musicality. … To me he was a little bit more casual.”
Dancer Gillian Knowles told News of the World that the seven dancers on the scene were “a little wary of Nick, because he didn’t seem to know what he was doing.”
Nick Lazzarini: ‘The people who came before you, you are more prepared than all of them’. Photograph: RVDL/ITV News
Bonachela also appeared to have shown little interest in his choreography being performed. When someone from In the Heights asked why Bonachela would be involved in the production, he responded that he was doing the soundtrack to pay his rent.
A spokesperson for the Australian Dance Theatre told the Guardian: “Nick Lazzarini will no longer be attending ABT’s West End production of In the Heights, in accordance with the organisation’s policies regarding disciplinary procedures. Mr Lazzarini has made the decision, not as a result of allegations in relation to this show, but as a result of specific concerns in relation to other matters that have been raised with the organisation.”
Noh Hartzol is meant to honour the Jewish festivals that surround Passover, the Jewish New Year, but during the Seder meal is what is believed to be the time when God leaves his people and shows compassion to his enemies. During the meal, God instructs the Old Testament in which Jewish people would take food from their enemies, food which then rises in value as it is supposed to come from a place of evil – it is called hartzol. The three sitting events of the meal itself are the Seder, which focuses on the cross, the deli and the hosting by the host – are referred to by the same Hebrew names: a portion of food is declared by an extra yeshu or prayer, before ritually passing it on to a new host.