Born in Ipswich, Liam Scarlett trained at the Linda Shipton School of Dancing and then The Royal Ballet School before graduating to The Royal Ballet in 2005. He was promoted to first artist in 2008. As a dancer, his repertory included Alain (La Fille mal Gardée), Magdaveya (La Bayadère), Peter Rabbit, Neapolitan pas de deux (Swan Lake), Golden Hours (Elite Syncopations), Gloria (pas de quatre), Chroma, Dancing Master (Cinderella), Beggar Chief (Manon), Les Patineurs, Texas Kangaroo Rat, Rubies, Puss In Boots (The Sleeping Beauty), and The Rite of Spring among others and working with choreographers such as Wheeldon, Bintley, McGregor, and Tuckett.
In 2012, he retired from dancing and was appointed artist in residence with The Royal Ballet and went on to create his first full -ength work, Hansel and Gretel (2013), in the Linbury Studio Theatre. He worked closely with designer John Bausor, who created a dark and unique twist to the old children’s tale.
While at the school, he won both the Kenneth Macmillan and Ursula Moreton Choreographic Awards and was the first recipient of the De Valois Trust Fund Award presented by Sir Peter Wright and Lady Deborah Macmillan. He was commissioned to create Monochromatic (2004) and Allegro de Jeunesse (2005) for The Royal Ballet School's annual performances at the Royal Opera House.
Since joining the Royal Ballet, he has created Few Things Are (2005), Vayamos al Diablo, and Despite (2006) for ROH2's "In Good Company." He has worked with several of the principals creating multiple pas de deux for galas worldwide, including Impromptu, Nocturne, Querencia, and Somente. For The Royal Ballet's "New Works in the Linbury," he created Of Mozart (2008), Consolations (2009), and Liebestraum (2009). The latter two were each nominated for a Critics' Circle Dance Award for best new classical choreography. He returned to the Royal Ballet School in 2009 to create Danse Bohemienne and Toccata for the graduate students again at The Royal Opera House.
In 2009, he participated in the New York Choreographic Institute's "Fall Program," creating Gargoyles with members of New York City Ballet. He has also participated in ROH2's "Dancelines" led by Kim Brandstrup for three years. He was a member of the jury for the 1st Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition in 2011.
His first commission for the main stage with The Royal Ballet, Asphodel Meadows (2010), was nominated for a South Bank Show Award and an Olivier Award and won the Critics' Circle Dance Award for best classical choreography. He followed this with Sweet Violets (2012), a psychological dance drama based on the painter Walter Sickert and the notorious Jack the Ripper cases.
He was also part of the creative team involved in The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery's Titian:Metamorphosis 2012, where he choreographed Diana and Actaeon (2012), working with Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili.
In America, he created and designed Viscera (2012) for Miami City Ballet, which entered The Royal Ballet repertoire in 2012. He also created and designed Euphotic (2013) for Miami City Ballet, his first scenic and costume design.
He created gala works for The Royal Ballet, including Jubilee Pas de Deux (2012) for Her Majesty The Queen as part of the Extraordinary World Gala and a Grand Défilé set to Beethoven with members of The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet for the International Olympic Committee. He also created Summertime (2015) in A Gala Celebration – Life Reimagined.
Serpent (2013), for BalletBoyz theTALENT, was his first commission for a contemporary company.
His first commission for K Ballet was Promenade Sentimentale (2013) set to music by Debussy.
In 2013, Liam created The Firebird for the Norwegian National Ballet, followed closely by Vespertine, his second commission, to which he also designed the costumes.
Linking up with John Bausor again in 2014, Liam created No Man’s Land for the English National Ballet in memory of the centenary of the First World War, which was nominated for a 2015 Critics' Circle Dance Award.
2014 brought a busy year of new commissions with Hummingbird (San Francisco Ballet), Acheron (New York City Ballet), With a Chance of Rain (American Ballet Theatre), and Age of Anxiety based on Leonard Bernstein's Symphony no. 2 and inspired by W. H. Auden's epic poem (The Royal Ballet).
In 2015, the Norwegian National Ballet commissioned him once again, this time for a three act Carmen with designs by John Bausor and music arranged by Martin Yates. This was followed closely by a new Midsummer Night's Dream for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which premiered to great critical acclaim.
2016 brought another new commission from the San Francisco Ballet with Fearful Symmetries and Frankenstein, his first main stage full-length production for The Royal Ballet that was co-produced with the San Francisco Ballet.