German ballet chief suspended for dog poo attack on critic

German ballet chief suspended for dog poo attack on critic

German ballet chief suspended for dog poo attack on critic

A German opera suspended its award-winning ballet director on Feb. 13 for smearing dog feces on the face of a prominent critic at the weekend premiere of his new show. 

Marco Goecke confronted journalist Wiebke Huester in the foyer at the Hanover State Opera during the first intermission in Saturday’s performance of “Belief - Love – Hope.” 

The ballet chief was apparently incensed by a review of his show “In the Dutch Mountains,” performed in The Hague, which was published on the same day by Huester in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). 

Goecke threatened to bar the critic from the Hanover State Opera and blamed her for cancelled subscriptions at the theatre, according to the paper. 

The choreographer then “pulled a paper bag full of animal excrement out and smeared the contents on the face of our dance critic,” FAZ said.

The incident was subsequently reported by the 57-year-old critic, a police spokeswoman told AFP. 

Samples of the “dog feces” had not been secured by authorities, who would have to rely on eyewitness testimony as they investigated the alleged assault, the spokeswoman said. 

Goecke’s “impulsive reaction” went against “all the Hanover State Opera’s rules of conduct”, the arts institution said in a statement.

The ballet director was suspended “with immediate effect” and banned from the theatre until further notice, it said.

Management had asked Goecke to explain his actions “before it communicates further steps,” the theater said.

“We contacted the journalist immediately after the incident and apologised to her personally,” opera house director Laura Berman said.

“We deeply regret that our audience was disturbed by this incident,” she added.

The humiliating act was also “an attempt to intimidate our free, critical view of art,” the FAZ said.

Goecke, ballet director at the Hanover theatre since 2019, was the 2022 recipient of the German Dance Prize.