Lady Gaga’s Longtime Choreographer Accused of Toxic Behavior by Ten Former Dancers

Richard "Richy" Jackson attends the 2015 Special Olympics Celebrity Dance Challenge held at Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts on Friday, July 31, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP)
John Salangsang/Invision/AP

Pop star Lady Gaga’s longtime head choreographer is reportedly being accused of creating a toxic work environment by ten former dancers.

Richard “Richy” Jackson, who has been Lady Gaga’s head choreographer since 2011, created an “unsafe” and “unhealthy” workplace, according to dancers who spoke by Rolling Stone.

Dancer Montana Efaw, who started dancing for Gaga when she was 18 years old in 2009, was reportedly the first dancer to accuse Jackson, taking to her Instagram Stories to announce that she would not be part of the tour because the choreographer “was a horrible person to work for.”

“To be completely open and honest with you guys, her choreographer Richard Jackson was a horrible person to work for,” Efaw said, claiming that he had been “mentally abusive to me for years.”

“After a series of unfortunate events, I just took it as a really clear sign that it’s time for me to move on and not work with him anymore,” she added.

Another dancer, Caroline Diamond, said Jackson “abused me, he embarrassed me, he made me feel terrible in the workplace, just because he could.”

“Gaga was my dream,” she added. “I chased it and I got it, and she is the dream, and then you get there, and this man makes your dream a nightmare.”

Rolling Stone spoke with five accusers who echoed the claims of the other dancers — two of whom said they voluntarily walked away from what was otherwise their dream job.

Former Lady Gaga dancer Knicole Haggins told the magazine that “all hell broke loose” after Jackson one time berated the dancers who were gathered for their first rehearsal in South Korea.

Haggins said Jackson singled her out and telling her, “You’re new and you don’t have a right to talk about what you need and don’t need to do.”

“That was the first moment I felt silenced,” she said, adding that the choreographer then began “staging me very poorly” and “ostracized me from the group [and] completely ignored my existence.”

“[Jackson] just really took it out on me a little,” she claimed. “I chose for myself that it was healthier to not go back — I didn’t even realize [until] two years after that tour how traumatizing it was.”

Another dancer, Celine Thubert, told Rolling Stone, “Like any professional dancer, this was my whole life,” adding, “It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, and when you get your dream job crushed by a toxic person, it’s horrible.”

Thubert, who is French, went on to say that Jackson was “disrespectful” and would “call me names or make fun of my accent,” before eventually trying to push her out of Lady Gaga’s dance team over a dispute involving a music video.

While Lady Gaga and Jackson have yet to address the allegations publicly, Rolling Stone reported that the pop star’s team is taking the dancers’ claims seriously and is looking into the matter.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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