Liam Scarlett, former Royal Ballet choreographer, dies aged 35
19 April 2021, 13:26
The British choreographer left the Royal Ballet last year following allegations of sexual misconduct, from which he was cleared.
Liam Scarlett, former Royal Ballet dancer and choreographer who left the company following claims of sexual misconduct, has died aged 35.
Scarlett’s family did not disclose the cause of death but called it a “tragic” and “untimely” loss.
A day earlier, the Royal Danish Theatre cancelled his show following claims of unacceptable conduct.
Following last year’s allegations, the Royal Ballet launched an independent investigation into Scarlett’s behaviour but found there were “no matters to pursue” in relation to students.
But in March 2020, the Royal Opera House – home to the Royal Ballet – said it would no longer work with Scarlett.
Dancer turned choreographer
Scarlett joined the Royal Ballet in 2006 as a dancer but hung up his ballet shoes six years later and turned to choreography.
He became the Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence in 2012 and created some of their most celebrated shows, including their 2018 Swan Lake, the first new staging of the Tchaikovsky ballet in 30 years.
Scarlett’s choreography was seen on the international stage, at the San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet, among others.
He was suspended from the Royal Ballet in August 2019 after students at the company came forward alleging sexual misconduct. The Times reported on Friday that the Royal Danish Theatre announced it was cancelling Scarlett’s production of the ballet Frankenstein, over alleged misconduct towards staff in 2018 and 2019.
Over the weekend, ballet companies have been paying tribute to Scarlett. The Royal Opera House tweeted, “Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very sad time”, while the Royal Ballet said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of Scarlett’s death.
Scarlett’s family said in a statement announcing his death: “At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss.”
‘Accountability in ballet’
In a Facebook post, Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky paid tribute to “a rare choreographic talent” and blamed “cancel culture” for his death.
But a dancer on Twitter urged people not to use news of Scarlett’s death “to score points”.
“We need accountability in ballet,” Aleksei Valentín said in a tweet. “Especially over abuse. We also need mental health support. It’s a tragedy this man is dead.”
Journalist Chloe Angyal added in a tweet that her thoughts are with “everyone who loved” Scarlett, but also with “the victims of abuse in ballet, who are being told, implicitly, that their desire for accountability of justice is to blame for a tragedy they had nothing to do with.”