Home » Liam Scarlett, Acclaimed British Choreographer, Dies at 35

Liam Scarlett, Acclaimed British Choreographer, Dies at 35

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Reviewing “Viscera,” the piece that Mr. Scarlett subsequently created for Miami City Ballet, Alastair Macaulay wrote in The New York Times in 2012 that its “images, constructions and textures” showed why Mr. Scarlett had “achieved the status of an important classical-ballet choreographer.”

Speaking of Mr. Villella to The Times in 2014, Mr. Scarlett said: “I owe Eddy a lot, because I was very aware that the American company directors would all be watching to see what the outcome would be. After that piece, everyone called.”

Mr. Scarlett ended his dancing career in 2012 and became the Royal Ballet’s first artist in residence the same year. Over the next seven years, in addition to creating numerous pieces for his home company, he choreographed works for the Norwegian National Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Queensland Ballet, BalletBoyz and Texas Ballet Theater.

Although he tended to make abstract works when invited as a guest choreographer, his pieces for the Royal Ballet showed his predilection for narrative. With works like “Sweet Violets” (2012), a tale of Jack the Ripper and murder in Victorian England, “Hansel and Gretel” (2013) and “The Age of Anxiety,” a war-themed ballet based on the W.H. Auden poem of the same title and set to Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, Mr. Scarlett showed that he was part of a long tradition of dance drama at the Royal Ballet.

In 2016 he created his first full-length work, “Frankenstein,” a retelling of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel to a commissioned score by Lowell Liebermann. It garnered lukewarm reviews, both in London and when it was performed in 2018 by the San Francisco Ballet. His new version of “Swan Lake,” staged for the Royal Ballet in 2018, was received with more warmth.

“It is far from a radical reinvention — the setting and choreography stay close to the 19th-century original — yet it stands out from so many other Swan Lakes in its attention to dramatic detail,” Judith Mackrell wrote in The Guardian.

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