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Liam Scarlett dead at 35


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6 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 Who knows....

Let's luxuriate in Scarlet's White Sean pdd.

 

It really does tell the story through the dance, doesn't it?

It will be interesting to see if this tragedy removes the kibosh from staging his ballets. To borrow a line from Albee, there is probably an irony involved in this, but I am not drunk enough to figure out what it is.

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13 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

It's Sunday. Get out there to brunch. 😉

I'm perfectly sober, thanks. The line is from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? where everyone is swozzled. But I thank you for the concern. :)

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9 hours ago, California said:

Alexei Ratmansky's statement on Scarlett: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNy1jfigqOo/

I'm so glad AR came forward to make a statement. And this is to the point: "Would Diaghilev, Nureyev, Robbins and countless other greats, who were not spotless, be able to work today? "

In today's climate, Jerome Robbins would not have a career, period. That much I can say with certainty.

 

5 hours ago, canbelto said:
I am going to sound really cold but here goes. A few years ago I was suicidal and was in the hospital. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE cared. In fact the psychiatrist attending said it would be better had I just actually gone through with it while his intern giggled. My boss at work was really disappointed I didn't go through with it. My friends turned their backs on me. How come suicide is only a "tragedy" when it's a talented white male who does it after accusations of abuse? Liam Scarlett was accused of abusing dancers and students. He was terminated after they found just cause. And people are acting like this is a huge tragedy. I never abused anyone, I never hurt anyone, and yet when I was feeling suicidal so many people were eager for it to happen. I'm not a talented white male. This double standard is disgusting.

As SFB soloist Madison Keesler phrased it in her post about Scarlett: "We are all human and we all deserve love and empathy, no matter what."
I'm afraid not everyone agrees with that point of view, but there are plenty of people who do.

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3 minutes ago, pherank said:

"Would Diaghilev, Nureyev, Robbins and countless other greats, who were not spotless, be able to work today? "

Ratmansky's premise is faulty. It's entirely possible that had Diaghilev, Nureyev or Robbins been born in the latter 20th century, they might have grown up to behave quite differently.

Or you may be correct: today's dancers might have refused to work with Robbins. That dancers today expect and receive better treatment than in the past is a good thing.

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26 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

Ratmansky's premise is faulty. It's entirely possible that had Diaghilev, Nureyev or Robbins been born in the latter 20th century, they might have grown up to behave quite differently.

Or you may be correct: today's dancers might have refused to work with Robbins. That dancers today expect and receive better treatment than in the past is a good thing.

Of course. I was thinking in terms of transporting Robbins as is(!) into the present age. It's impossible for me to know how different Robbins (or the others) might be if he were born in 1990, say, rather than 1918.

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What a disgrace. Nothing was proved and still he was cancelled and vilified.   And now he killed himself.  This is horrid. 

 Bring on the acussers. Publicly. Ask them to publicly prove their case. Yes. Publicly because the vilifying and destruction of their lives and careers was public. So if there's no prove, that needs to be seen in public too. 

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@canbeltoI am sorry you went through such a horrible ordeal. I'm grateful you are with us (even if I can only really know you online)--

In thinking about Scarlett's death, I keep thinking about finding a middle way through these issues. In my eyes, Scarlett was young enough that it should have been possible for him to have a second act--he might have been given (or taken) the chance to grow up and act differently. Certainly, his death is extremely shocking and saddening to me.

But it's disheartening to me, too, that his death is being automatically "blamed" in part on people who, it is very possible--in my opinion, probable--were themselves victims.  I'll add that from the time of his "fall" from ballet grace, I wondered if more couldn't have been done to intervene in his behavior when he was developing as a choreographer and leader in the ballet world. He seems to have been pegged as a future choreographic superstar very young and that may have gotten in the way of certain kinds of mentoring--along with ballet's long-standing (and I would say problematic) attitudes about what is and isn't appropriate in the studio and the theater.

I'm writing based on the belief that the Royal Ballet did not cut ties with Scarlett based on a casual rumor.  (And Denmark is not exactly known for American style puritanism.) I just don't find it plausible that there weren't problems that had to be addressed. Moreover, the Royal kept the investigation out of the public eye for a period of many months; it only became known to the public when it was more or less over. That was a way of protecting Scarlett--if the investigation had truly turned up nothing only Royal ballet "insiders" (and maybe not all of them) would have known anything about it.

The problem for public discussions of this is that we don't exactly know why he was terminated. The investigation didn't lead to criminal action--that was a good thing for Scarlett too. But, as has already been said, not every investigation has to lead to criminal action for there to be a need to take action in the workplace.  Still, no-one in the general public really knows exactly what was involved --  he wasn't "cleared" exactly but there was nothing to "pursue" (which is not the same as saying nothing went down) and then he loses his position with the company.  Anyway, no-one who can officially or publicly say what was involved seems able to do so--perhaps for legal reasons--or has done so.  For all we know the silences are protecting the accused as well as the accusers. I have certainly known of such cases in my own workplace.

But we don't know. We also don't know whether anyone who had worked with Scarlett in a position of authority tried to give him guidance/help of any kind after ties were cut with the Royal. (I recognize it might have been tricky to do so.) So basically, a lot of unknowns. Maybe the Royal over-reacted; maybe they didn't. Given his importance to them, it seems to me they had a lot of incentive not to over-react. Maybe the Royal Danish Ballet was playing it cautious; maybe they had good reason to act.

So, yes, greater transparency would be great --and it is surely part of the answer going forward--but I don't think we should assume that it's a magical panacea or necessarily produces fair resolutions.  For one thing, it is not only the accused who take a beating when accusations come out; accusers who speak out publicly also take a beating. Often a much worse one, especially if they are accusing someone loved or popular. And I won't even start on research into who gets believed and who doesn't when sexual accusations are made.  (Since Kavanaugh was mentioned above, it's worth noticing that even the "perfect" victim, in that very different context, Christine Blasey Ford, was unable to impact the outcome of the hearing.)

Forgiving flaws and understanding that humans are...uh...human isn't and shouldn't be the same as saying there should never be any consequences or that no-one should ever lose a job. So, there has to be a middle way--to me, the sloganeering against "cancel culture" misses the point as much as ex-communicating Scarlett from ballet for all eternity does.

Edited by Drew
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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

Ratmansky's premise is faulty. It's entirely possible that had Diaghilev, Nureyev or Robbins been born in the latter 20th century, they might have grown up to behave quite differently.

Or you may be correct: today's dancers might have refused to work with Robbins.

Many of yesterday's dancers refused to work with Robbins or rebelled against it, and had to be talked into working with him. Others had different experiences with him.

I agree that Ratmansky's premise is faulty (AR has sometimes been a bit tone deaf when it comes to the nuances of movements like #MeToo)  but I also take what I think is his larger point. In Scarlett's case this was someone who was still young in terms of his profession and, I assume, capable of learning and changing. Like pherank, I appreciate AR's candor.

Quote

That dancers today expect and receive better treatment than in the past is a good thing.

Absolutely.

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But it's disheartening to me, too, that his death is being automatically "blamed" in part on people who, it is very possible--in my opinion, probable--were themselves victims. 

It's easy to forget how small the ballet world is and how much power can be exerted over dancers.

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23 minutes ago, Drew said:

I'll add that from the time of his "fall" from ballet grace, I wondered if more couldn't have been done to intervene in his behavior when he was developing as a choreographer and leader in the ballet world.

I kept thinking this. It must have been something of an open secret and I wondered why someone didn't take him aside and explain how intimidating his behavior would be to young dancers, no matter how playful he may have thought it was. Perhaps with Frankenstein he was sending some sort of a message.

Not sure if a ballet like Hansel and Gretel from what I've seen and read of it, with its sadism and creepiness, can ever be revived not matter how forgiving an audience may be.

Anyway, thank you Drew for your carefully reasoning. And I'm sorry, so sorry, canbelto, for what happened to you. 

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50 minutes ago, Drew said:

Forgiving flaws and understanding that humans are...uh...human isn't and shouldn't be the same as saying there should never be any consequences or that no-one should ever lose a job. So, there has to be a middle way--to me, the sloganeering against "cancel culture" misses the point as much as ex-communicating Scarlett from ballet for all eternity does.

Just wanted to say thank you so much @Drew for what you wrote - it resonated with me. I'm truly heartbroken to hear of Scarlett's passing.  So many of his works resonated with me, not the least of which was Frankenstein.  I really hope there is a path forward for us to be able to continue to watch and appreciate his works.

I do think Ratmansky somewhat misses the point about "cancel culture" - in our current society, nobody has the right to employment, and there should be consequences for bad behavior at work.  However, reflecting on a lot of the current toxicity in the ballet world, I wonder if there was a way for Royal Ballet mentors and staff to intervene sooner when it came to Scarlett - I don't think Scarlett's actions happened in a vacuum.  Banishing him from all of ballet simply isn't a path forward.  Rooting out bad behavior on a case-by-case basis (especially in such a complex, not especially progressive culture as is in the ballet world) just simply won't work long-term - there absolutely need to be systemic changes.  

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3 minutes ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

I do think Ratmansky somewhat misses the point about "cancel culture" - in our current society, nobody has the right to employment, and there should be consequences for bad behavior at work.  However, reflecting on a lot of the current toxicity in the ballet world, I wonder if there was a way for Royal Ballet mentors and staff to intervene sooner when it came to Scarlett - I don't think Scarlett's actions happened in a vacuum.  Banishing him from all of ballet simply isn't a path forward.  Rooting out bad behavior on a case-by-case basis (especially in such a complex, not especially progressive culture as is in the ballet world) just simply won't work long-term - there absolutely need to be systemic changes.  

I agree with all of this.

Yes, “cancel culture” is a nifty phrase, but it really just refers to a world in which actions have consequences and institutions are responsible.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Yes, “cancel culture” is a nifty phrase, but it really just refers to a world in which actions have consequences and institutions are responsible.

Cancel Culture refers specifically to the complete rejection and removal of support for a person that "offends". And the term was originally used to refer to this 'strategy' when employed on social media. Over usage of any term in the media and online naturally tends to blur the original definition/reference.

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3 hours ago, Drew said:

Forgiving flaws and understanding that humans are...uh...human isn't and shouldn't be the same as saying there should never be any consequences or that no-one should ever lose a job. So, there has to be a middle way--to me, the sloganeering against "cancel culture" misses the point as much as ex-communicating Scarlett from ballet for all eternity does.

Imo, Cancel Culture has not earned a pass. It is not unequivocally riotous. Not even close.

'But it's disheartening to me, too, that his death is being automatically "blamed" in part on people who, it is very possible--in my opinion, probable--were themselves victims'

> I haven't noticed this myself - the anger around Scarlett's suicide is not being automatically directed at his "victims". It's had nothing to do with that. Most of the comments I've seen have been along these lines:

"Who wrote this cliche of a response?"

"I don’t think I have ever read a more false and insincere statement."

"I restrained an immediate response to your shallow instant PR tweeted sadness as my words were not fit to print.   The sadness is less Liam Scarlett’s tragic death than the failures at the Royal Opera House, @TheRoyalBallet
  and #TheRoyalTheatre that must have contributed to it."

"Quality copy/paste."

"Given that the ROH slung him out and disposed of his work on the basis of allegations that were never 'founded' the board should consider it’s position in this unnecessary tragedy"

"A few months I ago I noticed that ROH removed Liam's rehearsal clips from YouTube, such as Sweet Violets. Some of these were never performed on DVD. We cannot let this man's legacy die. Royal Ballet NEEDS to re-release them and reinstate his works in the repertoire going forward."

 

Essentially it is your "middle way" that is entirely missing here. I never get much indication that people who have 'misbehaved', for lack of a better term, are being properly counseled, re-trained, whatever. Unless, that is part of their sentencing. And in Scarlett's case, there was never any sentencing. The world essentially told him to F-off.

I applaud Ratmansky for publicly speaking out - whether or not we agree with his interpretation of the facts doesn't matter as to me much as his taking the time to speak up.

Edited by pherank
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55 minutes ago, pherank said:

Imo, Cancel Culture has not earned a pass. It is not unequivocally riotous. Not even close.

'But it's disheartening to me, too, that his death is being automatically "blamed" in part on people who, it is very possible--in my opinion, probable--were themselves victims'

> I haven't noticed this myself - the anger around Scarlett's suicide is not being automatically directed at his "victims". It's had nothing to do with that.

Just as I was typing this @canbelto responded and I think that response is pertinent.

I will say that I think you (Pherank) are right that the word "automatically" was not well chosen, but I wouldn't say the anger around Scarlett's suicide has "nothing" to do with victim blaming as you do. I have seen a lot of comments on "rumor"  and "insinuation"--as if the person commenting somehow knew that was all the Royal Ballet had to go on and no-one had actually experienced or testified to anything first hand; also generalized remarks about how anyone can say anything out of spite and questioning why the accusers didn't have to come forward publicly and lots on Twitter (often by people who seem not to know much about the case) declaring that Scarlett was "cleared," was innocent etc. -- how he is another victim of puritanism, of people launching accusations and having them taken seriously when there is no evidence:  you can also see some of this in the responses on FB to Ratmansky's comments when he posted them there.  To me, this clearly implies blame of whoever brought the original concerns to authorities at the school and company, not exclusive blame, but blame. (And I agree with Canbelto that this blame is there in some cases where people don't think of themselves as victim blaming. And of course for many people the issue is that they don't believe there were any victims. Or they believe that the accusations were brought by dancers/students/workers who didn't suffer anything we should take very seriously. I'm not one of those people.)

It may clarify my perspective if I speak "hypothetically:" if I had filed a complaint about a co-worker and later heard people speak this way about the case, using these phrases, then I would certainly feel that I was one of the people being blamed for the fall out.  And that my concerns were being belittled and marginalized.

Another hypothetical: if I am angry at a ballet company director for firing someone for behavior that an internal investigation found was  inappropriate for the workplace, what does that say -- if only indirectly -- about my view of that behavior and of the people who complained about it?

My other thoughts about the nuances of the case, what we do and don't know, what I personally do and don't believe, my emotions in response to the suicide etc. were expressed above in my original post. I will repeat just one thought which is that it was always my hope that over time Scarlett would be able to re-assume a place within the ballet world. (How exactly? Not sure...My few  ideas about that, which assume he lost his position for a reason, are rather stereo-typically American, eg I used to picture some kind of therapeutic narrative...and it would have taken time.)

 

Edited by Drew
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36 minutes ago, canbelto said:

By glorifying and beatifying Mr. Scarlett, people ARE blaming the victims, whether they know it or not.

Most of what I've read has been by people mourning the loss, not 'glorifying and beatifying' as you put it. I guess we agree to disagree.
 

12 minutes ago, Drew said:

To me, this clearly implies blame of whoever brought the original concerns to authorities at the school and company, not exclusive blame, but blame.

That's an interesting take on things. I can't say that I agree that it goes that far - for most of these social media commenters. If you asked them directly, "Are the people who reported Scarlett's misbehavior to blame for his suicide?", I'll bet you will hear, "that's not what I meant."

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9 minutes ago, pherank said:

Most of what I've read has been by people mourning the loss, not 'glorifying and beatifying' as you put it. I guess we agree to disagree.
 

If you read comments on FB and twitter there's a whole bunch of "he was innocent, and such a genius" talk, and also of course a bunch of "political correctness gone awry" and "cancel culture" rants. 

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4 hours ago, Drew said:

Forgiving flaws and understanding that humans are...uh...human isn't and shouldn't be the same as saying there should never be any consequences or that no-one should ever lose a job. So, there has to be a middle way--to me, the sloganeering against "cancel culture" misses the point as much as ex-communicating Scarlett from ballet for all eternity does.

I am willing to believe that the Royal cut its ties with Scarlett for good reason - he couldn't be charged with anything, but his conduct still didn't meet the standards of the organization, I presume. What Ratmansky, I think, was saying that he should not have been blackballed - and that, for all intents and purposes, was what happened - he was not only dismissed from the Royal, a pretty big consequence and very possibly deserved, but he and his works were dropped everywhere, even places where he had no history of misconduct, as I understand it. It's reasonable to ask if it had to happen this way.

As you wrote, there's a lot we don't know. 

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Just now, pherank said:


 

That's an interesting take on things. I can't say that I agree that it goes that far - for most of these social media commenters. If you asked them directly, "Are the people who reported Scarlett's misbehavior to blame for his suicide?", I'll bet you will hear, "that's not what I meant."

For those who would respond that way, and mean it, well, I could wish they would choose their words more carefully.

(I think a lot of ballet fans just wish the larger problem would go away -- and that's not a recipe that seems likely to protect future talent whether we are thinking of dancers on the receiving end of mistreatment or rising stars given leeway because..."genius" or some such.)

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In the best of outcomes, I think there might be a problem reviving such works as Sweet Violets (jack the Ripper), Hansel & Gretel, Die Toteninsel and even Frankenstein neutrally and without reading something of the situation into them. The subjects are pretty dark and depend on the integrity and "genius" of the choreographer to sell them.  Also who would rehearse and edit them? 

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I'll let the mourners have their mourning, and the ranters their rant. But looking for people to blame and disenfranchise - via social media - hasn't achieved anything that I can see. Some individuals may think that they are more 'empowered' now that they participate in social media shaming, but that is a delusion - Cancel Culture is a type of mob rule, and entirely dependent on group mind. The individual is going to suffer, and is, seemingly. That's not a positive institutional change by me.

And it would be a mistake to think that anyone one of us is immune from cancellation.

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53 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

In the best of outcomes, I think there might be a problem reviving such works as Sweet Violets (jack the Ripper), Hansel & Gretel, Die Toteninsel and even Frankenstein neutrally and without reading something of the situation into them. The subjects are pretty dark and depend on the integrity and "genius" of the choreographer to sell them.  Also who would rehearse and edit them? 

The ballets are sufficiently recent that I would think there are people who were involved performing and coaching them who still remember them well enough to stage and rehearse them. Tapes are from hunger, but if they are there they can be used.  If the will is there I imagine there would be a way.

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