Theatre splits with choreographer after move to distance itself from The Holocaust

Promoter EStarz offering to reimburse Holocaust survivor and his family for expensive pass

The move to pull choreographer Nick Lazzarini from a forthcoming US tour by New York company EStarz following the release of The Holocaust documentary Star has sparked an online backlash, with the organisation accusing critics of airing “outrageous lies” and allegations of racism.

Star confirmed on Tuesday that it had parted ways with Lazzarini – who had worked with the company for the past year and a half – after public pressure over their handling of the allegations against the controversial choreographer, who was accused of sexual misconduct and conduct on set which “could not be condoned”.

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In an article published on Monday, EStarz founder Sammy Adeyemi apologised to Holocaust survivor Reuven Greenwald and said the theatre’s board of directors had directed him to immediately do so.

“EStarz is grateful for what the director has done, and we are honouring his decision to sever all ties with Nick Lazzarini,” the theatre said in a statement on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for EStarz told the Guardian on Wednesday that the decision to sever ties with Lazzarini came from EStarz, with Adeyemi still chairing the theatre’s board.

“EStarz made the decision because they took these allegations very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “We did not want anyone in our communities to be victimized in this way by a producer and choreographer.”

Adeyemi previously announced to the theatre community on Monday that the company would not be working with Lazzarini for a future performance of the company’s dance drama The Smoke and Mirrors. A petition calling for Lazzarini to be removed from the show after the documentary was published began circulating online hours later.

A number of advertisers on the EStarz television channel called for a boycott of the company’s TV show, The Masked Singer, calling the company “cowardly” and “despicable” for not immediately taking action following the allegations against Lazzarini.

Lazzarini has denied all allegations of abuse. On Tuesday, EStarz announced that EStarz Productions LLC was offering to reimburse Greenwald and his family for all “expenses incurred for a series of passes provided” by the theatre. The theatre has denied paying for any passes in the Variety article.

Both the BBC and Channel 4 have cancelled a ballet performance by Lazzarini that was due to take place in December this year.

The documentary released by the broadcaster Channel 4 in June was based on the findings of the Jonathan Montfort–led inquiry into EStarz for the Independent and “sharply criticised EStarz for failing to promptly implement recommendations”.

The commissioned the audit after the BBC broadcast Rape On the Dancefloor – a dramatisation of the abuse of dancer Cheryl Forgan – but the investigation published in April found that the BBC had not sufficiently checked allegations against Lazzarini before airing the drama. The film was written by Sarah Lotz and directed by Miles Jupp.

“You accept that as a company you were engaged in not delivering the standards of transparency and accountability that you were attempting to provide,” the committee concluded.

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