‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ Choreographer Testifies She Doesn’t Remember Dancer Alleging Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault
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Harvey Weinstein's defense asked a choreographer from the 2004 film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights to answer questions about a dancer from the film who testified as a witness at the L.A. trial. The dancer has claimed she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein during production of the musical film, which his company Miramax was producing.
Choreographer JoAnn Jansen was summoned by Weinstein's defense team to comment Monday afternoon. She was the principal choreographer on the 2004 film, which was a reimagining of the original hit "Dirty Dancing," and has worked on a total of four films for Weinstein.
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Jansen said she has no recollection of ever meeting Ashley Matthau, who is an uncharged witness at the trial. Matthau had booked a small role as a dancer in the "Dirty Dancing" sequel. During testimony, she claimed she was assaulted in 2003 when Weinstein masturbated to her in his Puerto Rico hotel room. Matthau, then 22, said Weinstein wanted to talk to her about "future projects." She agreed to go to the hotel because his assistant was with him and assumed it was for a business meeting. When they got to his room, his assistant left them.
Matthau told the jury that she confided in a choreographer and producer on set, but said neither of them offered help. Matthau did not provide the name of this choreographer during her statement, so it's unclear whether she was referring to Jansen or someone else.
During Jansen's testimony on Monday, she shared that she was completely unaware that Matthau was working on the film. The choreographer said 50 to 75 dancers were hired and claimed to know them all. When she was shown a photo of Matthau, she didn't recognize her.
Jansen also told the defense that no woman ever complained about Weinstein during production.
"Has a dancer met with you to express your concerns?" asked Weinstein's attorney, Mark Werksman. Jansen replied, "No." She said she would have remembered if such a concern had been reported to her.
Werksman also asked if any of the dancers on set were "distressed" about any meetings with Weinstein, and Jansen said, "No."
Upon cross-examination by the prosecutor, Assistant D.A. Marlene Martinez, Jansen said she would recognize every single dancer she has worked with. "I know that sounds strange, but I did it."
The prosecutor then showed Jansen IMDb pages from "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," and Jansen said she recognized everyone in the cast except Matthau. "She's been credited with being a dancer, but you don't recognize her?" Jansen replied, "No."
The prosecutor then asked about another dancer in the film: Claudia Salinas, a model and influencer who testified early in the trial after being accused of helping Weinstein capture a woman in his hotel bathroom, where she allegedly assaulted became. Salinas denied any involvement in the alleged incident and denied any wrongdoing, but her name came up a few times during the trial as Weinstein's alleged accomplice.
When asked about Salinas, Jansen immediately recognized the name. When asked about Salinas' relationship with Weinstein, Jansen seemed uncomfortable and replied to the prosecutor, "I don't know." Jansen said she hasn't worked with her and said, laughing, "I don't know why, but I know her."
Jansen noted that Salinas was a "dance extra" and said she didn't hire her. When Martinez asked if she was interacting with any of the dance extras, Jansen said, "No, I'm not allowed to," citing SAG rules that say she's only allowed to interact with lead dancers. Martinez then asked, "Would you know all the dance extras?" and Jansen said, "No." Martinez suggested that Matthau might have been a dance extra.
Jansen - whose choreography credits include Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Uptown Girls, Shall We Dance and two upcoming Avatar sequels - was the fourth witness, by the defense was subpoenaed. Weinstein's attorneys plan to subpoena two more witnesses before dropping their case this week.
Matthaus' attorney responded to Variety's request for comment Monday night in response to Jansen's testimony.
"A quick credit check for 'Havana Nights' reflects Ashley as a dancer in the film, and she's receiving remaining checks to this day," attorney Elizabeth Fagen of the Fagen Scott law firm said in an email to Variety. "If the defense argues that she wasn't there, they will lie to the court and jury."
Closing arguments in Weinstein's trial are expected to take place this week. The judge said the case is expected to be in the hands of the jury by the end of the week.
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