Royal Ballet choreographer Liam Scarlett ‘has been suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct with students’
- Liam Scarlett, 33, has been suspended over sexual misconduct allegations
- Has been banned from Covent Garden pending an inquiry over his behaviour
- The Royal Opera House confirmed that Mr Scarlett had been suspended
The Royal Ballet’s ‘golden’ choreographer has been suspended over sexual misconduct allegations, it was reported last night.
Liam Scarlett, 33, has been banned from Covent Garden pending an inquiry over inappropriate behaviour with students.
Independent investigators are probing claims Mr Scarlett behaved inappropriately with Royal Ballet School students, including encouraging them to send naked photographs, The Times reported.
One former student told the newspaper he was coaxed into sending an intimate photo when he was 18 and alleged Mr Scarlett had shared sexual messages with around 10 male students over Facebook.
The Royal Ballet’s choreographer Liam Scarlett, 33, has been suspended after claims emerged that he had behaved inappropriately with students
A spokesman for the Royal Opera House, which funds the ballet, confirmed Mr Scarlett was suspended and an investigation was opened after allegations were made.
Mr Scarlett, who is not a teacher, would also comment on dancers’ genitalia, touch their backsides and walk in on them changing, a student alleged.
He said: ‘As a dancer you are trained to say yes to everything.
‘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.’
He claimed he is speaking out to stop Mr Scarlett from working with students again.
Mr Scarlett, the celebrated artist-in-residence, was the youngest choreographer to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the company.
He has been described as ‘potentially the greatest British choreographer since Kenneth Macmillan’, the producer who launched British ballet onto the world stage for a quarter of a century.
An employment firm was reportedly brought in last August to oversee the inquiry into the claims, which has not yet concluded.
It is understood that no findings have currently been made against Mr Scarlett.
Mr Scarlett (pictured meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Opera House) was the youngest choreographer to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the company
Other dancers were said to have told the inquiry that Mr Scarlett took cocaine with the dancers and berated company staff.
Star dancers reportedly pulled out of a recent production because they did not want to work with Mr Scarlett, who has also been accused of bullying.
The inquiry was reportedly told that Mr Scarlett ‘seemed to enjoy people fearing him’.
Another dancer described how he is ‘the goose that lays the golden egg’ with audiences buying tickets because of his choreography.
‘Everyone has been too scared to speak,’ the dancer said.
It is claimed performers did not complain for fear of missing out on parts, with young performers who did not complain often given preference over more experienced members.
A dancer also told the inquiry that parts were sometimes offered to performers in exchange for keeping quiet about his behaviour.
The choreographer (pictured left with dancers) graduated from the school in 2005
Mr Scarlett, who graduated from the school in 2005, was meant to choreograph the company’s production of Oklahoma.
Rehearsals were instead postponed without warning in August, around the time the complaints were said to have been made.
The company blamed a scheduling conflict for the delay.
A dancer said: ‘We are so confused – we are going to be rehearsing Swan Lake soon and the choreographer is not even allowed on site. It is an absolute scandal.’
A spokesman for the Royal Opera House, which funds Royal Ballet, told The Times: ‘We were made aware of allegations relating to Liam Scarlett in August 2019.
‘The individual was immediately suspended and an independent disciplinary investigation opened.
‘The Royal Ballet Company has a code of conduct to ensure staff and visiting artists are always supported.
‘As the process is ongoing, and as a duty of care to staff and artists, we are unable to comment further.’
Royal Ballet director Kevin O’Hare said in 2018 that the company previously had ‘issues’ with an inappropriate guest.
He added: ‘In the old days, we might have tried to smooth it over. Now, we say, ‘This isn’t going to happen’.
‘Even if it’s a great choreographer we say, no, they have to go.’
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