Joffrey Ballet School, ex-boss Christopher D’Addario embroiled in ugly legal fight


In an about-face so swift it would make a ballerina’s head spin, the former boss of the famed Joffrey Ballet School is allegedly threatening to bankrupt the institution.

Christopher D’Addario, who quietly resigned as executive director in March, temporarily shuttered the Greenwich Village school’s website Sept. 16, then threatened more disruptions if he wasn’t paid a hefty $450,000, the school claims in a Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit.

When a school lawyer demanded control of the website, the 45-year-old D’Addario replied in an email, “Go rightly f—k yourself … Happy to bankrupt the school in Court,” according to the lawsuit.

Before he allegedly took down, D’Addario texted childhood friend F. Lee Merwin, who succeeded him as the school’s executive director, telling him, “Say goodbye to your website, a—hole,” the school charges in the litigation.

The school was founded by Robert Joffrey and his partner, Gerald Arpino, who also launched the Joffrey Ballet and worked with dance legends Rudolf Nureyev and Twyla Tharp.

On Sept. 16, the school posted to its social media about “technical difficulties” with its website.

D’Addario, whose grandmother Edith and mother Gail worked for the school since the 1960s, denied the allegations.


Joffrey Ballet School executive director Christopher D’Addario

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The three floors of the Joffrey Ballet School at 434 6th Ave. at W.10th St. in the West Village.

Helayne Seidman



Joffrey Ballet School’s website was shut down.




Portrait of American dancer, instructor, and choreographer Robert Joffrey, co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet in 1972.

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He admitted sending the profane email but told The Post, “That’s far from a complete story.”

D’Addario, who lives in Texas, left the school in March because he was “tired,” staying on for a few months to help the business transition.

He says he never held the website hostage and only sought modest reimbursement for personal funds he poured into the school over the years when it ran a deficit, as well as $30,000 to $40,000 for Facebook advertising and money spent on the website itself.

“[The website] was just under my name, I didn’t ask for any compensation other than to be repaid,” he told The Post. “I also didn’t say, ‘You can’t have it back’ when I resigned. No one asked for it. All of a sudden attorneys are coming after me.”

D’Addario claims he put the website in “maintenance mode” for a couple of hours while he worked to separate the school’s domain name from other businesses in his account. He said he handed over control of the web site within 24 hours of being asked.

The legal battle has severed his relationship with his mom, a Joffrey Ballet School exec, D’Addario said.

“It’s kind of horrible to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve lost a mother. I don’t understand how it got here.

“I’m not going to take my own mother to court and I don’t understand how she could do that to me,” he added.

Gail D’Addario and lawyers for the school declined comment.

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