Harvey Weinstein’s defense called on a choreographer from the 2004 film “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” to answer questions about a dancer from the movie, who is a witness testifying in the L.A. trial. The dancer has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein during production on the musical film, which his company Miramax produced.
Choreographer JoAnn Jansen was subpoenaed by Weinstein’s defense team to take the stand on Monday afternoon. She was the main 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.
Jansen said she has no recollection of ever meeting Ashley Matthau, who is an uncharged witness in the trial. Matthau had booked a small role as a dancer on the “Dirty Dancing” sequel. During her testimony, she alleged she was assaulted in 2003 when Weinstein masturbated on her in his hotel room in Puerto Rico. Matthau, who was 22-years-old at the time, said that Weinstein wanted to discuss “future projects” with her. She agreed to go to the hotel because his assistant was with him and assumed it would be a business meeting. When they got to his room, his assistant abandoned her.
Matthau told jurors that she confided in a choreographer and producer on set, but said that neither of them had offered any assistance. Matthau did not specify the name of that choreographer during her testimony, so it’s unclear if she was referring to Jansen or somebody else.
During Jansen’s testimony on Monday, she shared she had no awareness of Matthau working on the film whatsoever. The choreographer said there were 50-75 dancers hired and claimed to know all of them. When shown a photo of Matthau, she did not recognize her.
Jansen also told the defense that no women ever made any complaints about Weinstein during the production.
“Did any female dancer meet you to express any concern?” Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, asked. Jansen replied, “No.” She said she would have remembered if such a concern was reported to her.
Werksman also asked if any of the dancers on set were in “distress” about any meetings with Weinstein, and Jansen said, “No.”
When cross-examined by the prosecutor, deputy D.A. Marlene Martinez, Jansen said she would recognize every single dancer with whom she worked. “I know that sounds odd, but I did.”
The prosecutor then showed Jansen IMDb pages from “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” and Jansen said she recognized every person in the cast, aside from Matthau. “She was credited with being a dancer, but you don’t recognize her?” Jansen responded, “Nope.”
The prosecutor then proceeded to ask about another dancer on the film: Claudia Salinas, a model and influencer who testified earlier in the trial after being accused of helping Weinstein trap a woman in his hotel bathroom where she was allegedly assaulted. Salinas disputed any involvement in the alleged incident and denied any wrongdoing, but her name has emerged a handful of times during the trial as an alleged accomplice to Weinstein.
When asked about Salinas, Jansen immediately recognized the name. When questioned about Salinas’ relationship with Weinstein, Jansen appeared to be uneasy and replied, “I don’t know,” to the prosecutor. Jansen said she didn’t work with her and, with a laugh said, “I don’t know why, but I do know her.”
Jansen noted that Salinas was a “dance extra” and said she did not hire her. When Martinez asked if she interacted with any of the dance extras, Jansen said, “No, I’m not allowed to,” citing SAG rules that state she is only able to interact with principal 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 called by the defense. Weinstein’s attorneys intend to call two more witnesses before resting their case this week.
Matthau’s attorney responded to Variety‘s request for comment on Monday evening, in response to Jansen’s testimony.
“A quick check of the credits for ‘Havana Nights’ reflects Ashley as a dancer in the movie, and she still receives residual checks to this day,” said attorney Elizabeth Fagen of the firm Fagen Scott, in an email to Variety. “If the defense argues she wasn’t there, they will be lying to the court and the jury.”
Closing arguments in Weinstein’s trial are expected to occur this week. The judge indicated that the case will likely be in the jury’s hands by end of the week.