Yesterday The Times of London 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.
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 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, and 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.
Update: San Francisco Ballet announced it would replace Scarlett's Hummingbird on its Classical (Re)Vision program running February 11-20, "out of respect to the ongoing inquiry in London, the dance community at large, patrons of SF Ballet, families of the SF Ballet School, and artists of the company." Replacement programming will be updated on the SFB website when available.