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Arts & Culture

LehrerDance founder: “No comment” on why he was fired

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The founder of LehrerDance recently fired by his board of directors is rehearsing for an international tour.  As we reported last week, the board terminated Jon Lehrer and shut down the contemporary dance company. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley caught up with Lehrer 'exclusively' while rehearsing dancers inside the Burchfield Penney Art Center auditorium Wednesday.  

One week after the board issued an email stating they fired Lehrer as artistic director, we found him sitting inside the Burchfield auditorium watching a dance rehearsal. The company abruptly shut down earlier this month, board members quit and dancers were let go. The board stated they were reviewing the company's financial situation. We asked Lehrer about the rumors circulation. 

“The board sent out a statement that they fired you? Buckley asks. "Yes, they did. Yes, yeah-yeah” responded Lehrer.  

“Can you comment on that? “ asked Buckley. “Not right now and um -- you know -- yeah I can't really comment on that right now,” replied Lehrer .

“There have been some very difficult off-the record accusations made against you on embezzlement?” questined Buckley.  “Yes., I  have no comment on that right now. Right now what we are doing is the artist vision as Jon Lehrer and what I brought to the company is still there. It's my choreography still, and what people have seen on stage is all still there -- might be some different dancers -- but the vision lives on,” answered Lehrer. 

Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News
The door at Burchfield auditorium where Lehrer held rehearsal.

The board indicated it was in consultation with its attorneys and accountants to determine the organization’s financial status, but had declared a halt of all operations.  Lehrer told us his lawyer has instructed him not to discuss certain details of the situation.

“As soon as we are done with this tour a reassessment will take place on what I’m able to do and what I’m able not to do,” Lehrer explained. 

Lehrer is preparing for an international tour called "Shadows in Motion." He recruited three former Lehrer dancers and hired five new dancers. They leave Monday for Germany for a nearly eight-week tour that will include Austria and Luxenberg. Lehrer said  it was booked by his agent.

“We aren’t funding it. We never were -- it was a booking -- so our agent is the producer  and they get it all - just like any tour -- it is paid for by the theater or the agent or the producer,” Lehrer said.  

Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley
Jon Lehrer on the left.

Board members stated over the next few weeks they  would be reaching out to the company’s creditors, supporting foundations and friends.   

WBFO News reached out to the Erie County District Attorney’s office on the matter. The public information officer said they “cannot confirm or deny an investigation into the matter.”   

Athough Lehrer allowed us to record an interview, he refused to have his photo or photos of his dancers taken at the rehearsal. 

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