Liam Scarlett in rehearsal for The Age of Anxiety in 2014. Bill Cooper, Courtesy The Royal Ballet.

Liam Scarlett Suspended From The Royal Ballet Over Claims of Inappropriate Behavior with Students

Yesterday The Times reported that Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett has been suspended from the company since last August, following allegations of inappropriate behavior with students. The company brought in the employment firm Linda Harvey Associates to conduct an independent investigation, which is still underway. No findings have yet been made against Scarlett.

Australia's Queensland Ballet, where Scarlett is artistic associate, has also suspended its relationship with the choreographer, and San Francisco Ballet just announced that they're replacing Scarlett's Hummingbird in the company's February program.


A former Royal Ballet School student told The Times that Scarlett encouraged him to send him an intimate photograph, and that Scarlett had shared sexual messages with at least 10 male students via Facebook. Scarlett is also being accused of commenting on dancers' genitalia, touching their backsides and walking in on them changing. "As a dancer you are trained to say yes to everything," the former student told The Times. "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."

Scarlett, 33, graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 2005, where he won several choreographic awards. He joined the company the same year, and was promoted to first artist in 2008. In 2012, he stepped back from dancing to become The Royal Ballet's first artist in residence, and in 2014 he became the youngest choreographer to create a full-length ballet on the company with the debut of his Frankenstein. In recent years he's been celebrated for his new production of Swan Lake and work on Disney's The Nutcracker & The Four Realms. According to The Guardian, rehearsals for Scarlett's new production of Oklahoma were postponed in August, at the time that the inquiry was opened. The company said the change in programming was due to a scheduling conflict.

Scarlett is the next in what is becoming a long list of dancers, choreographers and directors in the ballet world accused of sexual misconduct since the start of the #MeToo movement. Court proceedings for Alexandra Waterbury's lawsuit against New York City Ballet, former NYCB principals Chase Finlay and Zachary Catazaro, current NYCB principal Amar Ramasar, NYCB donor Jared Longhitano and the School of American Ballet are currently underway. Earlier this week protestors rallied against Ramasar's casting in the West Side Story Broadway revival; a Change.org petition to remove Ramasar from the stage has already gathered nearly 24,000 signatures. This news followed in the wake of Peter Martins' retirement as NYCB's ballet master in chief amid sexual misconduct allegations, and former American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes' resignation after an allegation of sexual misconduct. We'll continue to keep you updated as more of Scarlett's story is revealed in the coming days.



Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks