English choreographer Liam Scarlett, currently artist in residence at The Royal Ballet and artistic associate at Queensland Ballet, is in demand as a choreographer worldwide. Prodigiously talented as a dancemaker, he is the youngest choreographer ever to have a full-length ballet commissioned by The Royal Ballet.
Born in Ispwich, England, Liam trained at the Linda Shipton School of Dancing, before going to The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge at age 11. His aptitude for choreography emerged early: as a student at The Royal Ballet School, he won the Kenneth MacMillan and Ursula Moreton Choreographic Awards and was the first recipient of the De Valois Trust Fund Choreographers’ Award. He joined The Royal Ballet as a dancer in 2005, and was promoted to first artist in 2008. Liam’s repertory as a dancer included Peter Rabbit (Tales of Beatrix Potter), Vicar/The March Hare (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and roles in Swan Lake, The Prince of the Pagodas, and La Fille Mal Gardée.
While still a company member, Liam continued to choreograph, creating Despite, Vayamos al Diablo, and Consolations and Liebestraum (nominated for a Critics’ Circle Award). His first work for The Royal Ballet’s Covent Garden main stage was Asphodel Meadows (2010), which won the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography, and the attention of Edward Villella, then director of Miami City Ballet, who immediately commissioned a ballet for that company (Viscera, 2012).
After creating Sweet Violets (2012), about Jack the Ripper, and ‘Diana and Actaeon’ in Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 for The Royal Ballet, Liam retired from dancing at age 26 to become The Royal Ballet’s first artist in residence (a position created just for him) and to focus on creating his first full-length work, Hansel and Gretel (2013). This was followed by The Age of Anxiety (2014), based on the W.H. Auden poem of the same name and Summertime (2015). The extent of his talent and his potential were quickly apparent. Neil Norman of The Stage wrote: “Schooled in MacMillan and Frederick Ashton, he has a classicist’s eye for the aesthetic of beauty and line, as well as the innovator’s urge to stretch the boundaries of what is possible as well as acceptable.”
Liam has also choreographed for English National Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Norwegian National Ballet. Liam was named artistic associate of Queensland Ballet in Australia following premiere of his new A Midsummer Night’s Dream for that company.
San Francisco audiences first saw Liam’s work in 2014, when he created the critically acclaimed Hummingbird for San Francisco Ballet, followed by the world premiere of his Fearful Symmetries in 2016. SF Ballet and The Royal Ballet co-commissioned Liam to choreograph the full-length Frankenstein, set to music by Lowell Liebermann, with scenic and costume design by John Macfarlane. Dance Europe wrote that Frankenstein has “everything an audience expects and wants: intrigue, shock, choreography that is beautifully constructed, performances that will transport you and spectacular theatre.”