United Kingdom

Liam Scarlett, world-renowned choreographer, dies aged 35

A world-renowned British ballet choreographer has died shortly after Denmark’s national theatre cancelled a run of his shows over allegations of “unacceptable behaviour”.

The family of Liam Scarlett today announced his death as reports emerged that his upcoming production of Frankenstein had been axed by the Royal Danish Theatre.

The news comes just one year after the 35-year-old left The Royal Ballet in Covent Garden after being cleared of sexual misconduct allegations made by its students over the course of ten years.

Scarlett's family said in a statement this morning: "It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam.

"At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss."

The cause of death has not been disclosed.

His death comes just one day after The Royal Danish Ballet announced it was cancelling its production of Scarlett's Frankenstein, due to be staged in spring 2022.

The ballet company cited "unacceptable" behaviour from the choreographer towards several of the theatre's employees, during rehearsals in 2018 and 2019.

Theatre director Kasper Holten said on Friday: "Offensive behavior is unacceptable at the Royal Theater, also from visiting artists. The well-being and safety of our employees is a high priority for us.

"We therefore do not wish to perform the works of the choreographer in question for the time being, and 'Frankenstein' in the spring of 2022 has therefore been cancelled."

Scarlett joined the Royal Ballet Company in 2006 and retired from dancing in 2012 to focus on choreography.

The artist-in-residence was suspended in August 2019, following claims that he behaved inappropriately and encouraged former pupils to send him naked photographs.

He was investigated over claims of sexual misconduct involving students.

And his position with The Royal Ballet ended last year, when the Royal Opera House, 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.

The allegations sent shockwaves through the ballet world, with Australia's Queensland Ballet among those to cut ties with Scarlett.

The Royal Opera House took to Twitter today to share a tribute to Scarlett, which was retweeted by The Royal Ballet.

It read: "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."

But the company has come under fire for its tribute, with people replying that it was "in very bad taste", and suggesting that the Opera House had "destroyed his life".

One Twitter user wrote: "You are shameless. You destroyed this life."

And another commented: "I think you should've kept your condolences private - it’s very very bad taste."

The English National Ballet also paid tribute to Scarlett, writing: "We are saddened to learn of the death of choreographer Liam Scarlett. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family and friends at this sad time."

And the New Zealand School of Dance added that it was "so sad" to hear that Scarlett had died.

Scarlett, once described by the New York Times as the “new choreographic wonder boy of British ballet”, was the youngest choreographer to have a full length-ballet commissioned by The Royal Ballet.

He also choreographed works for Norwegian National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Queensland Ballet, and Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Kevin O'Hare, the Royal Ballet director, said last month that Scarlett's "works aren't going to be seen" - but it would retain in its repertoire the version of Swan Lake he choreographed.

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