Liam Scarlett - Bringing the Arts Together

by M. Sparks

Since the goal of Masterpiece Finder is two-fold, bringing awareness to underrepresented art and also bringing down divisive barriers between the art fields, it would be amiss to pass up the opportunity to highlight Australian-born, British choreographer, Liam Scarlett.


Scarlett is a young thirty-year-old who discovered his passion for choreography at a very early age, and deviated from the standard dancer’s path when he was twenty-six. While most dancers are settling into the prime of their career at this time, Scarlett has opted to put away his pumps in exchange for his marionette strings. But this is hardly the correct way to describe Scarlett as a choreographer. Rather than dictate and direct his choregraphies from a lofty station as puppeteer, Scarlett understands the importance of every dancer and joins them on the dance floor to intricately explain his creative desires.


He currently works as Artist-in-Residence at the Royal Ballet, where he recently finished his first full-length ballet for the stage of the Royal Opera House in London. He masterfully brought to life Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic fiction, Frankenstein.


The tragic story of Frankenstein, a young scientist who experimentally creates a life which ultimately results in his death and that of his beloved’s, has captivated audiences for nearly two hundred years, and has been translated into many film and theatrical productions. Despite is popularity across the globe, Scarlett’s choice to bring it to the dance stage has proven innovative and fresh, and has given us a reason to love the gothic horror novel even more.


Scarlett, himself, admitted that “taking any piece of  literature which relies so heavily on words, is always hard to translate into dance,” and yet he accomplished his goal in a captivating way. It has been hailed as a “classic of the future” for the world of dance, and the female lead, Laura Morera has called the production the “highlight of her career.”


While Scarlett had dreams and ideas in his head of how the ballet should be, it is rare for any dance to come to fruition without music, and so American composer, Lowell Liebermann was commissioned to create the score. A virtuosic pianist and composer, Liebermann embraced his short deadline and had the 140-minute ballet score ready for rehearsals in just under one year.


Equally brilliant and efficient work was accomplished by theatre designer and painter, John Macfarlane. Macfarlane was one of the first people Scarlett contacted upon receiving approval for the ballet by The Royal Ballet’s director, Kevin O’Hare. Having worked with Macfarlane on many of his other projects, Scarlett knew that, with Macfarlane, he would receive the best visual representation of his take on the classic novel.

This cohesion between dancers, artists, musicians, and novelists beautifully reflects the heart of the fine arts - to bring together a community of passionate people and experience the freedom and joy found in self-expression. The ballet that reached into the past to unite it with the present and point us to a bright future premiered on May 17, 2016.