Liam Scarlett. Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

The Royal Ballet Ends Its Association with Liam Scarlett After Misconduct Investigation

The Royal Ballet announced yesterday that it has ended its association with the choreographer Liam Scarlett.

Scarlett, who has served as the company's artist in residence since 2012, had been under investigation for sexual misconduct against Royal Ballet School students. However, in a brief statement released yesterday, The Royal Ballet said that the independent investigation, led by Linda Harvey Associates, had found "no matters to pursue in relation to alleged contact with students of the Royal Ballet School."


Even so, the company, which was in the middle of performing Scarlett's Swan Lake earlier this month (before the coronavirus pandemic forced the opera house to close), says that "he will no longer work with, or for, The Royal Ballet." Upcoming summer performances of Scarlett's Symphonic Dances have been canceled.

Other than that, the company is remaining tight-lipped. A spokesman told The Guardian that it will not comment further in order to "preserve the anonymity of the individuals concerned and as a duty of care to staff and artists."

In January, an article in The Times of London reported that the company launched an investigation last August after Scarlett was accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with Royal Ballet School students. A former student told the Times that the choreographer had encouraged him to send him an intimate photograph, and that, among other things, Scarlett had sent sexual messages via Facebook to about 10 other students.

Although not publicly disclosed at that point, the company immediately suspended Scarlett and postponed the premiere of his Oklahoma!, citing scheduling issues.

After the news broke in January, several companies including San Francisco Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater canceled planned performances of Scarlett's work. Australia's Queensland Ballet, where Scarlett was also artist in residence, immediately suspended its relationship with him, as well. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Queensland Ballet then held its own investigation but did not find any evidence of inappropriate behavior by Scarlett.

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"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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