Royal Ballet star choreographer, 35, dies suddenly after he was suspended over sexual misconduct claims from his male students
- Royal Ballet choreographer Liam Scarlett has died aged 35, his family reveal
- Last year Mr Scarlett was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations
- Former student said he was coaxed into sending intimate photo when he was 18
- Family said ‘it is with sadness that we announce the tragic death of our Liam’
Royal Ballet choreographer Liam Scarlett has died aged 35 after he was cancelled by Denmark’s national theatre.
All performances at Mr Scarlett’s production of Frankenstein were axed by the Royal Danish Theatre yesterday.
In a statement today, his family said: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam.’
They asked for privacy ‘at this difficult time for all of our family’ to allow them to grieve.
The decision to cancel Mr Scarlett’s shows came after allegations of misconduct were made by several members of the Royal Danish Theatre’s staff.
The Danish theatre said: ‘Liam Scarlett is no longer employed by the Royal Ballet.
‘Since then, the Royal Theatre has actively sought dialogue with its own employees who have worked with Liam Scarlett. That process has now led to the theatre cancelling the upcoming performance.’
Royal Ballet choreographer Liam Scarlett (pictured) has died aged 35 after he was cancelled by Denmark’s national theatre
Scarlett’s position with The Royal Ballet ended last year, when the Royal Opera House, which is home to the Royal Ballet Company, said that an independent investigation into Scarlett had concluded.
There ‘were no matters to pursue in relation to alleged contact with students of The Royal Ballet School’, it said.
Scarlett joined the Royal Ballet Company in 2006 and retired from dancing in 2012 to focus on choreography.
The artist-in-residence was investigated over claims of sexual misconduct involving students.
The allegations sent shockwaves through the ballet world, with Australia’s Queensland Ballet among those to cut ties with Scarlett.
The Royal Opera House previously said it was ‘made aware of allegations relating to Liam Scarlett’ in August 2019.
‘The individual was immediately suspended and an independent disciplinary investigation opened,’ it said.
His works for The Royal Ballet include Despite, Vayamos al Diablo, Consolations and Liebestraum, Asphodel Meadows and new production of Swan Lake.
The Royal Opera House said on Twitter: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Liam Scarlett’s death.’Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very sad time.’
Mr Scarlett was banned from the Royal Ballet in March last year over allegations of inappropriate behaviour with students.
The Royal Opera House previously said it was ‘made aware of allegations relating to Liam Scarlett’ in August 2019
Mr Scarlett (pictured meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Opera House) was the youngest choreographer to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the company
Independent investigators were probing claims Mr Scarlett behaved inappropriately with Royal Ballet School students, including encouraging them to send naked photographs.
One former student told the Times he was coaxed into sending an intimate photo when he was 18 and alleged Mr Scarlett had shared sexual messages with around 10 male students over Facebook.
A spokesman for the Royal Opera House, which funds the ballet, confirmed Mr Scarlett was suspended and an investigation was opened after allegations were made.
Mr Scarlett, who is not a teacher, would also comment on dancers’ genitalia, touch their backsides and walk in on them changing, a student alleged.
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 are pre-programmed to do it.’
He claimed he was speaking out to stop Mr Scarlett from working with students again.
Mr Scarlett, the celebrated artist-in-residence, was the youngest choreographer to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the company.
The choreographer (pictured left with dancers) graduated from the school in 2005
He was 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.
An employment firm was reportedly brought in August 2019 to oversee the inquiry into the claims, which has not yet concluded.
It is understood that no findings have currently been made against Mr Scarlett.
Other dancers were said to have told the inquiry that Mr Scarlett took cocaine with the dancers and berated company staff.
Star dancers reportedly pulled out of a recent production because they did not want to work with Mr Scarlett, who was accused of bullying.
The inquiry was reportedly told that Mr Scarlett ‘seemed to enjoy people fearing him’.
Another dancer described how he was ‘the goose that lays the golden egg’ with audiences buying tickets because of his choreography.
‘Everyone has been too scared to speak,’ the dancer said.
It is claimed performers did not complain for fear of missing out on parts, with young performers who did not complain often given preference over more experienced members.
A dancer also told the inquiry that parts were sometimes offered to performers in exchange for keeping quiet about his behaviour.
Mr Scarlett, who graduated from the school in 2005, was meant to choreograph the company’s production of Oklahoma.
Rehearsals were instead postponed without warning in August 2019, around the time the complaints were said to have been made.
The company blamed a scheduling conflict for the delay.
A dancer said: ‘We are so confused – we are going to be rehearsing Swan Lake soon and the choreographer is not even allowed on site. It is an absolute scandal.’
A spokesman for the Royal Opera House, which funds Royal Ballet, last year told The Times: ‘We were made aware of allegations relating to Liam Scarlett in August 2019.
‘The individual was immediately suspended and an independent disciplinary investigation opened.
‘The Royal Ballet Company has a code of conduct to ensure staff and visiting artists are always supported.
‘As the process is ongoing, and as a duty of care to staff and artists, we are unable to comment further.’
Royal Ballet director Kevin O’Hare said in 2018 that the company previously had ‘issues’ with an inappropriate guest.
He added: ‘In the old days, we might have tried to smooth it over. Now, we say, ‘This isn’t going to happen’.
‘Even if it’s a great choreographer we say, no, they have to go.’
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