The unusual reaction of a German ballet director to criticism: he attacked a journalist with dog feces

A cameraman films the State Opera in Hannover, Germany (Julian Stratenschulte/dpa via AP) (Julian Stratenschulte/)

A ballet director from the German city of Hannover smeared the face of a critic from his country with animal feces, offended by a review she wrote. The Hannover State Opera apologized for the incident and announced on Monday that suspended ballet director Marco Goecke with immediate effect.

The newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that a furious Goecke approached his dance critic, wiebke huesterduring the break from a premiere at the Hannover opera on Saturday and asked him what he was doing there.

According to the newspaper, they did not know each other personally. Goecke, who was apparently provoked by a recent criticism she wrote of a production he had staged at the Dutch government headquarters in The Hague, threatened to ban her from the ballet and accused her of being responsible for the people will cancel their season tickets in Hannover.

Next, he took out a paper bag of animal feces and smeared its contents on her face before fleeing through the theater lobbywhich was crowded.

Huester identified the substance as dog feces and said he had filed a criminal complaint, the German news agency reported. APD.

In a statement posted on its website, the opera house says Huester’s “personal integrity” was violated “in an unspeakable way,” and that it contacted her immediately after the incident to apologize.

Marco Goecke Germany
Marco Goecke, Ballet Director of the Hannover Opera (@marcogoecke)

The opera noted that Goecke’s “impulsive reaction” violated the basic rules of the theater and that it “caused massive damage to the Hannover State Opera and the State Ballet.” Consequently, he was suspended and banned from the theater until further notice.

Goecke has been given the next few days to apologize “exhaustively” and provide explanations to theater management “before further measures are announced,” he added.

However, the ballet director seemed unrepentant, at least in part. In an interview with public broadcaster NDRacknowledged that his “choice of media was not great, absolutely.”

“Of course, socially that is not recognized or respected either, if one resorts to such means,” he said of the attack, adding that he had never done anything like this before and that he was “a little shocked with myself.”

Goecke said that while having his job “dirty for years” was a price he had been told he had to pay for being in the public eye, there was a limit. “As of a certain point, I don’t agree.”

The German association of journalists DJV denounced the attack.

“An artist must tolerate criticism, even if it seems exaggerated”, declared the regional head of the union in the state of Lower Saxony, Frank Rieger. “Anyone who reacts violently to criticism is unacceptable. The attack on the journalist is also an attack on freedom of the press.”

(With information from AP)

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