‘Cancel culture’ is responsible for the death of the choreographer, says the world-famous Russian ballet dancer
A world-renowned Russian ballet dancer has blamed the ‘cancellation culture’ for the death of a fellow choreographer who died suddenly at the age of 35 – a year after he was suspended from the Royal Ballet amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.
American Ballet Theater artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky said directors were afraid of being ‘eaten alive’ if they performed shows by acclaimed choreographer Liam Scarlett.
Mr. Scarlett was accused of encouraging Royal Ballet School students to send nude photos, comment on dancers’ genitals, touch their backsides, and walk in within 10 years while they changed.
The choreographer – who joined the Royal Ballet Company in 2006 but retired in 2012 to focus on choreography – was cleared after an independent investigation.
Still, The Royal Opera House, which runs the Royal Ballet, ended its relationship with him in March last year – with several other theaters following suit.
The Royal Danish Theater dropped all performances of his Frankenstein production due to allegations between 2018 and 2019, just a day before he died.
The Opera House in London released a tribute after his death yesterday, saying they are ‘deeply saddened’.
American Ballet Theater artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky (left) said, ‘Cancel culture is killing’ after directors refused to stage Liam Scarlett’s ballets (right) over the allegations
Ratmansky said directors were afraid of being ‘eaten alive’ if they put on shows from acclaimed choreographer Mr Scarlett.
He was acquitted after an independent investigation. Still, The Royal Opera House refused to partner with him – with several other theaters following suit. After Mr Scarlett’s death, Royal Opera House said on its official Twitter: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Liam Scarlett’s death’
Russian Ratmansky said his death was a “tragic loss of a rare choreographic talent,” adding that directors who refused to make his shows “killed him.”
He wrote on Facebook: ‘I am shocked by the news that Liam Scarlett committed suicide. What a tragic loss of a rare choreographic talent.
‘How many great ballets he could have made!
Following allegations of inappropriate behavior less than two years ago, companies he worked for pulled his ballets out of the sales rep and canceled all of his future contracts.
‘I did hear a director say:’ I can’t program his ballets, I’ll be eaten alive ‘.
Liam knew he had no future as a choreographer. That killed him.
‘It shouldn’t have happened. This cancellation culture is deadly, it’s too much!
Could Diaghilev, Nureyev, Robbins and countless other greats, who weren’t spotless, be able to work today?
How is it possible that the whole ballet world, all of us, turned their backs on such a great talent and forced 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 yesterday said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic untimely death of our beloved Liam.
“In this difficult time for all of our family, we ask that you respect our privacy so that we can mourn our loss.”
Liam Scarlett (pictured) was accused of encouraging Royal Ballet School students to send nude photos, comment on dancers’ genitals, touch their backsides, and walk in as they changed over a 10-year period
Last year, an independent investigation into Mr Scarlett concluded that there were “no cases to pursue in connection with alleged contact with students from The Royal Ballet School.”
The artist-in-residence had been investigated for claims of sexual misconduct involving students.
Independent investigators had investigated allegations that Mr. Scarlett was behaving inappropriately towards Royal Ballet School students, including by encouraging them to send nude photos.
An old student told the Times he was persuaded to send an intimate photo when he was 18, claiming that Mr. Scarlett shared sexual messages with about 10 male college students via Facebook.
Mr Scarlett was the youngest choreographer to be commissioned a full ballet by the company and has been described as ‘possibly the greatest British choreographer since Kenneth Macmillan’
Liam Scarlett as Alain in the Royal Ballet’s production of Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee at the Royal Opera House
Another student claimed he would also comment on dancers’ genitals, touch their backsides, and walk in if they changed.
He said, ‘As a dancer you are trained to say yes to everything.
“Because it’s so competitive, you can’t pass up an opportunity, so when someone with a lot of strength asks you to do something, you’re pre-programmed to do it.”
He claimed at the time he spoke out to dissuade Mr. Scarlett from working with students again.
Mr Scarlett (pictured meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Opera House) was the youngest choreographer to commission a full-length ballet for the company
In March last year, the Royal Opera House said it would no longer be working with Mr Scarlett.
The Royal Opera House runs the Royal Ballet.
Following Mr Scarlett’s death, Royal Opera House said on its official 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.”
The Royal Ballet School – an independent charity – was first informed that the allegations related to some of its students in 2020.
The allegations caused shock waves throughout the ballet world, with the Australian Queensland Ballet severing ties with him among others.
Mr Scarlett was the youngest choreographer to commission a full-length ballet for the company.
He has been described as ‘possibly 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 honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and a new production of Swan Lake.
The choreographer (photo left with dancers) graduated from the school in 2005
His death comes a day after all performances of his production of Frankenstein were dropped by the Royal Danish Theater after allegations of misconduct were leveled by several Royal Danish Theater staff between 2018 and 2019.
Theater director Kasper Holten said in The Times: ‘Offensive behavior is unacceptable in the Royal Theater.
‘The well-being and safety of our employees is of paramount importance to us.
‘We therefore only want to perform the works of the relevant choreographer afterwards, and Frankenstein has therefore been canceled in the spring of 2022.’
A spokesperson for the Royal Opera House, which funds Royal Ballet, told The Times last year: ‘We were made aware of allegations related to Liam Scarlett in August 2019.
The person was immediately suspended and an independent disciplinary investigation was opened.
The Royal Ballet Company has a code of conduct to ensure staff and visiting performers are always supported.
‘Since the process is underway and as a duty of care towards employees and artists, we cannot go into this further.’