Sex scandal leaves Queensland Ballet in a global spin

QUEENSLAND Ballet will now go ahead with its tour of Melbourne despite scrapping its original plans over a sex scandal.

QB's brief mid-April Melbourne season of their acclaimed if somewhat raunchy ballet Dangerous Liaisons was cancelled on Thursday in the wake of a major sex scandal involving its British choreographer, Liam Scarlett.

Choreographer Liam Scarlett in Brisbane. Photo: Claudia Baxter
Choreographer Liam Scarlett in Brisbane. Photo: Claudia Baxter

Scarlett, 33, is the Royal Ballet in London's top choreographer and has worked closely with Queensland Ballet over the past few years after being announced as an artistic associate by QB artistic director Li Cunxin. This was regarded as a major coup for the company.

Scarlett, who made a name for himself in Brisbane with his adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2016, which toured to Melbourne and China, was in the Queensland capital last year to help stage Dangerous Liaisons which was a huge hit despite some punters feeling it was a tad too sexy.

Queensland Ballet’s Dangerous Liaisons was sexy as hell, some said too sexy
Queensland Ballet’s Dangerous Liaisons was sexy as hell, some said too sexy

But when Queensland Ballet was made aware of allegations made against Scarlett that led to him being stood aside by the Royal Ballet they suspended all relations with him, expunged him from their website and cancelled the forthcoming Melbourne season of his ballet. (Other copanies around the world have also cancelled ballets choreographed by Scarlett)

That led a mad scramble to either refund punters in Melbourne and local fans who were flying down to for it or to salvage the season with another production.

But now Queensland Ballet's artistic director Li Cunxin has confirmed the company will push head with its tour and will spend the weekend searching the world for a replacement production.

"We have been working around the clock to confirm our ballet for QB's tour to Melbourne," Mr Li said.

"We're considering our repertoire. We have also given a great deal of thought to short-listing ballets we think will appeal to our interstate audiences."

There are a few possible replacements including Dracula, a co-production with the West Australian Ballet which was a favoured option. It is to be performed in Brisbane in May so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to get it ready for the Arts Centre Melbourne where it will be performed on April 17 and 18. But hopes of that option were fading late Friday

Aurelien Scannella in Dracula the ballet, created exclusively for WA Ballet and Queensland Ballet. Picture By Frances Andrijich
Aurelien Scannella in Dracula the ballet, created exclusively for WA Ballet and Queensland Ballet. Picture By Frances Andrijich

But there are several other options and it is hoped a new program will be settled by Monday.

The cancellation of Dangerous Liaisons followed Scarlett's recent suspension from the Royal Ballet followed claims he had behaved inappropriately with Royal Ballet School students and had encouraged them to send him naked photos. Scarlett has been unavailable for comment while a spokesperson for Queensland Ballet said an investigation into the allegations was underway in the UK and that in the meantime QB "has suspended all future engagements with Liam Scarlett pending the results of that investigation".

Li Cunxin said that while a program change was "not ideal" he hoped to minimise inconvenience to our patrons who have chosen to enjoy a QB production in Melbourne.

"We hope that our new ballet will be of interest however full refunds are available," Mr Li said.

Meanwhile, and in light of the novel coronavirus, QB has been in talks with Shanghai Ballet regarding their presentation of Lady of the Camellias scheduled for Brisbane in March.

"What we know is that Shanghai Ballet Company is currently on tour in the USA and they are determining their ability to tour to Brisbane in March. We'll stay up to date with Australian Government Health advice and will decide the best course of action in close consultation with all involved", Mr Li said.


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