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British choreographer Liam Scarlett dies at 35

Liam Scarlett.
Liam Scarlett.

Liam Scarlett, the internationally acclaimed British choreographer who left The Royal Ballet last year after claims of sexual misconduct, has died at the age of 35 at his home in Ipswich, England. 

In a statement from his family, Scarlett’s death was called “tragic, untimely”, but the cause of death has not been disclosed.

Scarlett had joined The Royal Ballet as a dancer in 2006, before becoming its artist-in-residence in 2012. There, he created some of the company’s major productions, including a new Swan Lake in 2018. 

In August 2019, after allegations of sexual misconduct involving students at The Royal Ballet School, Scarlett was suspended. A seven-month investigation had found “no matters to pursue,” but Scarlett left his position in March 2020. Australia’s Queensland Ballet also canceled the choreographer’s work as a result. 

A day before Scarlett’s death, the Royal Danish Theatre announced it was canceling a production of Frankenstein, a ballet for which Scarlett was the guest choreographer, over allegations of misconduct toward its staff in 2018 and 2019. 

Many dancers and industry leaders are expressing their shock over Scarlett’s death on social media, and many are led to believe the young choreographer took his own life. Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky wrote in an Instagram post: “I am shocked by the news of Liam Scarlett’s suicide. What a tragic loss of a rare choreographic talent. … After allegations of inappropriate behavior less than two years ago, companies that he worked for removed his ballets from the rep and canceled all his future contracts. … Liam knew he has no future as a choreographer. That killed him.”

In a statement announcing the death, Scarlett’s family said, “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 Royal Ballet said on social media that it was “deeply saddened to hear the news of Liam Scarlett’s death.” 

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