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Liam Scarlett dead at 35


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I am sorry to learn of Liam Scarlett's death as he was a young choreographer who during a short career managed to create a number of striking dance works which plenty of people many years his senior who describe themselves as choreographers would have been pleased to have made. I can't help feeling sorry for his family. His death must have come as a real shock given his age.

As far as the Times' headline is concerned I wonder what happened to the old idea that you should not speak ill of the death? But of course the paper is now a part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and has been for many years. Perhaps the only surprise is not the headline but that it took so long for the Times, which once had a reputation as a journal of record and a publication where serious journalism was undertaken , to find its place in the gutter along with Murdoch's other tabloid rags. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm going to assume that when the Times went to print, no one there was aware that Scarlett had died. The cancelation of a ballet production abroad isn't normally newsworthy outside of specialized publications, but this one had whiff of scandal to it. Evidently, that made it irresistible to the editors. The headline has since been updated to "‘Offensive’ British ballet supremo Liam Scarlett found dead."

Edited by volcanohunter
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The Royal Danish Ballet canceled because apparently there were complaints about Scarlett within the organization.  Not a typical cancellation and not surprising that it would be noted in the press given Scarlett's having been dumped from the Royal Ballet and his ballets canceled there (and elsewhere). The word "offensive" was used by the RDB's director, speaking to The Times: "Offensive behaviour is unacceptable at the Royal Theatre."

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9 hours ago, dirac said:

The Royal Danish Ballet canceled because apparently there were complaints about Scarlett within the organization.  Not a typical cancellation and not surprising that it would be noted in the press given Scarlett's having been dumped from the Royal Ballet and his ballets canceled there (and elsewhere). The word "offensive" was used by the RDB's director, speaking to The Times: "Offensive behaviour is unacceptable at the Royal Theatre."

Sounds like the RDB would not have cancelled the ballet based on other companies' complaints/insinuations - which is just interesting in itself. I say "insinuations" [allegations] because I don't know of any actual legal charges filed against Scarlett on any of the continents. Is that true, or no?

It's interesting to note how many companies are posting tributes to Scarlett on Instagram, and how many are not. [RDB doesn't have an Instagram account]

Yes:

SFB:  https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxw0zQrwh8/

BalletBoyz:  https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxt3GtlRMR/

RB made a terse comment on Twitter (posted by VolcanoHunter above), which is looking like it will be eviscerated by many -
https://twitter.com/RoyalOperaHouse

 

Not yet - but maybe they'll feel the pressure to say something, anything:

https://www.instagram.com/royaloperahouse/

https://www.instagram.com/englishnationalballet/

https://www.instagram.com/nycballet/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/abtofficial/

https://www.instagram.com/qldballet/

https://www.instagram.com/nzballet/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/miamicityballet/

https://www.instagram.com/norwegiannationalballet/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/originalballetblack/

 

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26 minutes ago, pherank said:

I say" insinuations" because I don't know of any actual legal charges filed against Scarlett on any of the continents.

I'd think "allegations" would be a more neutral term in such a circumstance.

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4 hours ago, dirac said:

The Royal Danish Ballet canceled because apparently there were complaints about Scarlett within the organization.

I am forced to rely on Google's translation, but the announcement from the Royal Danish Theater appears to make several references to "offensive" and "abusive"  behavior. I recall that when Scarlett was suspended by the Royal Ballet, press reports mentioned complaints about drug use and bullying, in addition to the allegations of inapproriate behavior toward RBS students.

https://via.ritzau.dk/embedded/release/planlagt-forestilling-aflyses-pa-grund-af-oplysninger-om-kraenkende-adfaerd?publisherId=3885992&releaseId=13619891

3 hours ago, pherank said:

It's interesting to note how many companies are posting tributes to Scarlett on Instagram, and how many are not.

Have Scarlett's former colleagues at the Royal Ballet been posting tributes? Admittedly I don't follow very many dancers on Instagram, but I didn't see anything. 

Edited by volcanohunter
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21 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

I am forced to rely on Google's translation, but the announcement from the Royal Danish Theater appears to make several references to "offensive" and "abusive"  behavior. I recall that when Scarlett was suspended by the Royal Ballet, press reports mentioned complaints about drug use and bullying, in addition to the allegations of inapproriate behavior toward RBS students.

https://via.ritzau.dk/embedded/release/planlagt-forestilling-aflyses-pa-grund-af-oplysninger-om-kraenkende-adfaerd?publisherId=3885992&releaseId=13619891

Have Scarlett's former colleagues at the Royal Ballet been posting tributes? Admittedly I don't follow very many dancers on Instagram, but I didn't see anything. 

No one from the Royal Ballet has posted anything (regarding Scarlett) that I have noticed. It's all very quiet.

Sarah Mearns did:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxcMVXJ_tX/

And other dancers, and Ratmansky, left emojis or comments on Mearns' post, but that's about it.

SFB's Madison Keesler:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CNxhQqVA0e3/

Chris Wheeldon left a comment on her post. Most people obviously aren't sure how to process this news, and aren't coming forward, yet.

Edited by pherank
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English National Ballet has commented very early.

Misty Copeland was one of the first to comment.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CNv9RgcDWB5/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

and a lot of dancers from Royal Ballet has paid tribute, as well as Manuel Legris (on his instagram story)

Scarlett was from the class of 2005 at Royal Ballet school that has many talents, such as Xander Parish, Joseph Caley, Thomas Foster, Alexander Jones, William Moore, Aaron Robison. 

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4 hours ago, pherank said:

Sounds like the RDB would not have cancelled the ballet based on other companies' complaints/insinuations - which is just interesting in itself. I say "insinuations" [allegations] because I don't know of any actual legal charges filed against Scarlett on any of the continents. Is that true, or no?

I don't think any charges were ever filed anywhere.  The independent investigation of the Royal Ballet matter said there were "no matters to pursue."

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12 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

I'm going to assume that when the Times went to print, no one there was aware that Scarlett had died. The cancelation of a ballet production abroad isn't normally newsworthy outside of specialized publications, but this one had whiff of scandal to it. Evidently, that made it irresistible to the editors. The headline has since been updated to "‘Offensive’ British ballet supremo Liam Scarlett found dead."

They have since dropped "Offensive" from the headline.

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It really is so sad.  I send my deepest condolences to Liam Scarlett's family and friends.

I've seen some rather touching tributes from a couple of dancers I know on FB.

NY Times obit:  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/arts/dance/liam-scarlett-dead.html

Published in the Australian magazine Limelight:  https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/tributes-flow-for-liam-scarlett/

Most of the articles on the internet just use the AP release.

 

In respect of the ROH investigation I believe it was found that there were no criminal charges to answer as no students were under the age of 18.  The timing of the RDB announcement is most peculiar - I understand it relates the incidents that were alleged to have happened in 2018/19 when Liam Scarlett was working there so why wait so long for this?

Of course, Ashton Fan is absolutely correct about the Murdoch press.  The original headline after news of his death came out was vile.

 

Edited by JMcN
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12 minutes ago, JMcN said:

In respect of the ROH investigation I believe it was found that there were no criminal charges to answer as no students were under the age of 18.  The timing of the RDB announcement is most peculiar - I understand it relates the incidents that were alleged to have happened in 2018/19 when Liam Scarlett was working there so why wait so long for this?

Of course, Ashton Fan is absolutely correct about the Murdoch press.  The original headline after news of his death came out was vile.

 

Just because there weren't criminal charges doesn't mean there wasn't behavior that merited dismissal.

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14 hours ago, pherank said:

RB made a terse comment on Twitter

 

9 hours ago, naomikage said:

English National Ballet has commented very early.

It struck me that the tweet by English National Ballet was virtually identical to the one from the Royal Opera House. But the former hadn't been Scarlett's primary employer, so its response wouldn't have been criticized for being impersonal and generic.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Just because there weren't criminal charges doesn't mean there wasn't behavior that merited dismissal.

I think the trouble is that for most people if these types of allegations were made they would have been dealt with in house and perhaps go as far as an Industrial Tribunal.  Most people wouldn't face being hung out to dry by the press and social media.

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Perhaps I am being naive but this stage I interpret the Royal Ballet's silence  as reflecting nothing more significant than the fact that the death of anyone in their mid thirties is unexpected. While I am sure that the management team has prepared any number of tributes for the deaths of major figures in the world of British ballet I don't think they would have anticipated this death. As far as company members are concerned it is just possible that most of them are still processing the news and coming to terms with it and as Janet has pointed out twitter does not provide the opportunity to say much, let alone anything nuanced.

Scarlett had shown real promise as a choreographer while still at the Royal Ballet School. One of the unusual things about his works from a very early stage was his ability to get his dancers on and off the stage in choreography that was interesting in its own right. The exits and entrances  he devised  for his casts never looked like the logistical exercises they can often appear to be in works created by young choreographers. He was working within an recognisable classically based tradition and yet he had an increasingly identifiable voice and as he showed in his work for the school he had the ability to make works which showed young dancers of different ages and thus of different levels of expertise to their best advantage. At the age of twenty six a special choreographic post was created for him and he seemed to be on track for a bright future as he made well received ballets for his home company and companies abroad. Then allegations were made about his conduct and the golden future disappeared.

The Royal Ballet School and the company were sufficiently concerned by the allegations made concerning the choreographer's conduct  to undertake an investigation into them. This was no more than you would expect any employer or any institution engaged in training children and young people to do in such circumstances. The internal enquiry revealed no child protection issues in connection with his conduct towards the RBS students who had worked with him on various projects. The Royal Ballet chose to sever its ties with him and he lost his post as resident choreographer which indicates, to me, that there were significant concerns about his conduct towards company members or at least some individuals in its ranks.  Various people have commented on the lack of criminal charges arising from the investigations but I think that does no more than indicate that the actions which the enquiry revealed did not cross the line from misconduct into criminality.

I have no idea what employment law is like in the US but in the UK it is perfectly possible for an employer to find that  an employee is guilty of misconduct sufficiently serious to amount to breach of his employment contract where the behaviour complained of does not amount to criminal activity. The employee has a remedy in law, if he feels that he has been treated unfairly, and that is to take his former employer to the Industrial Tribunal. As to why so little was said at the time about the enquiry's findings it seems more than possible to me that giving any sort of detail would have made those who had complained of his actions almost instantly identifiable and opened them up to harassment from the press, in a sort of double victimisation. 

I think that most members of the company will mourn the loss of a young choreographer with such obvious talent and potential regardless of what they think of him as an individual. His death seems such a waste.

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13 minutes ago, JMcN said:

I think the trouble is that for most people if these types of allegations were made they would have been dealt with in house and perhaps go as far as an Industrial Tribunal.  Most people wouldn't face being hung out to dry by the press and social media.

The accusations at the RDB were independent of what happened at the Royal Ballet though. So that's two different companies that found problematic behavior from him. 

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This are times to be tough. Generally speaking. Cancel culture and bullying are running wild and rampant. Allegations are being taken as proof, and people really have to have their heads well centered not to succumb. Just last night I was watching a prominent politician-( a certain Governor)- speak about it, and his demeanor stroke a note on me. I thought..."wow....I would be crawling in a corner....but look at this guy. So strong and unafraid".

And just a few hours later, this....

What a shame.

My deep condolences. I truly hate all this. It makes me want to vomit.

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