World-renowned Russian ballet dancer blamed ‘cancellation culture’ for death of fellow choreographer who died suddenly aged 35 – a year after being suspended from the Royal Ballet over allegations inappropriate behavior.
American Ballet Theater artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky said directors feared they would be “eaten alive” if they put on shows by highly acclaimed choreographer Liam Scarlett.
Mr Scarlett has been accused of encouraging students at the Royal Ballet School to send in nude photos, commenting on the dancers’ genitals, touching their backs and walking them over a 10-year period.
The choreographer – who joined the Royal Ballet Company in 2006 but retired in 2012 to focus on choreography – was cleared following an independent investigation.
Still, the Royal Opera House, which runs the Royal Ballet, ended their relationship with him in March of last year – with several other theaters following suit.
The Royal Danish Theater has dropped all performances of its production of Frankenstein over allegations made between 2018 and 2019, just a day before his death.
The London Opera yesterday paid tribute after his death, saying it was “deeply saddened”.
American Ballet Theater artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky (left) said ‘canceling culture is killing’ after directors refused to perform ballets by Liam Scarlett (right) on charges
Mr Ratmansky said directors feared they would be ‘eaten alive’ if they showed performances by highly acclaimed choreographer Mr Scarlett
He was cleared after an independent investigation. Despite this, the Royal Opera House refused to work with him – several other theaters following suit. Following the death of Mr Scarlett, the Royal Opera House said on its official Twitter: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Liam Scarlett”
Russian Ratmansky said his death was a “tragic loss of rare choreographic talent”, adding that directors refusing to do his shows “killed him”.
He wrote on Facebook: “I am shocked by the news of Liam Scarlett’s suicide. What a tragic loss of a rare choreographic talent.
“How many astonishing ballets he could still have created!
“After allegations of inappropriate behavior less than two years ago, the companies he worked for pulled his ballets from the representative and canceled all his future contracts.
“I heard a director say:” I cannot program his ballets, I will be eaten alive “.
“Liam knew he had no future as a choreographer. It killed him.
“It shouldn’t have happened. This culture of cancellation kills, that’s too much!
“Could Diaghilev, Nureyev, Robbins and countless other greats, who weren’t flawless, work today?”
“How is it possible that everyone in ballet, all of us, turned our backs on such incredible talent, forcing him to die so young?”
“Shame and sadness. Rest in peace Liam.
Mr Scarlett’s cause of death has not been confirmed.
A statement from his family said yesterday: “It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic and untimely death of our beloved Liam.
“In this difficult time for our whole family, we ask you to respect our privacy so that we can mourn our loss. ”
Liam Scarlett (pictured) has been accused of encouraging Royal Ballet School students to send nude photos, commenting on dancers’ genitals, touching their backs and stepping on them changing over a 10-year period
Last year, an independent investigation of Mr Scarlett concluded that there were “no issues to be pursued in connection with alleged contact with students of the Royal Ballet School”.
The artist-in-residence had been investigated into allegations of sexual misconduct involving students.
Independent investigators had investigated allegations that Mr Scarlett behaved inappropriately with students at the Royal Ballet School, including encouraging them to send in nude photos.
A former student told The Times he was tricked into sending an intimate photo when he was 18 and alleged that Mr Scarlett shared sex messages with a dozen male college students on Facebook.
Mr Scarlett was the youngest choreographer to have a full company-commissioned ballet and has been described as “potentially the greatest British choreographer since Kenneth Macmillan”
Liam Scarlett as Alain in the Royal Ballet production of Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee at the Royal Opera House
Another student claimed that he would also comment on the dancers’ genitals, touch their backs and walk on them while changing.
He said: “As a dancer you are trained to say yes to everything.
“Because it’s so competitive you can’t lose an opportunity, so when someone with a lot of power asks you to do something, you’re pre-programmed to do it.
He said at the time that he was speaking out to prevent Mr. Scarlett from working with students again.
Mr Scarlett (pictured meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Opera House) was the youngest choreographer to have a full ballet commissioned by the company
In March of last year, the Royal Opera House said it would no longer work with Mr Scarlett.
The Royal Opera House conducts the Royal Ballet.
After Mr Scarlett’s death, the Royal Opera House said on its official Twitter: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Liam Scarlett.
“Our hearts are with his friends and family at this very sad time.
The Royal Ballet School – an independent charity – was first informed that the allegations involved some of its students in 2020.
The allegations sent shockwaves through the ballet world, with Australia’s Queensland Ballet among those severed ties with him.
Mr. Scarlett was the youngest choreographer to have a full ballet commissioned by the company.
He has been described as “potentially the greatest British choreographer since Kenneth Macmillan”, the producer who launched British ballet onto the world stage for a quarter of a century.
His works for the Royal Ballet include Despite, Vayamos al Diablo, Consolations And Liebestraum, Asphodel Meadows, Hansel And Gretel, Jubilee pas de deux, which was in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and a new production of Swan Lake.
The choreographer (pictured left with dancers) graduated from the school in 2005
Her death comes a day after all performances of her production of Frankenstein were cut off by the Royal Danish Theater after allegations of misconduct between 2018 and 2019 were made by several staff at the Royal Danish Theater.
Theater director Kasper Holten said in The Times: “Offensive behavior is unacceptable at the Royal Theater.
“The well-being and safety of our employees is a priority for us.
“We therefore do not wish to perform the works of the choreographer in question until further notice and Frankenstein in spring 2022 has therefore been canceled. “
A spokesperson for the Royal Opera House, which funds the Royal Ballet, told The Times last year: “We became aware of allegations relating to Liam Scarlett in August 2019.
“The individual was immediately suspended and an independent disciplinary investigation was opened.
“The Royal Ballet Company has a code of conduct to ensure staff and guest performers are always supported.
“As the process is ongoing, and as a duty of care to staff and artists, we are unable to comment further.