German director smears dog faeces in critic’s face for bad reviews

Marco Goecke is one of Germany's most prominent choreographers - DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

Marco Goecke is one of Germany’s most prominent choreographers – DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

One of Germany’s most prominent choreographers has attacked a critic with dog excrement after she said her latest work would “bored” audiences to death.

Ballet director Marco Goecke is said to have touched critic Wiebke Hüster during the premiere of the ballet at the Hannover Opera House on Saturday evening and threatened to throw her out of the building.

Ms Hüster, a cultural critic for the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, said he accused her of making personal attacks on artists.

Having worked himself up into a rage, he pulled a paper bag full of dog excrement from his pocket and smeared it across his face.

He then turned around and went through the crowded hallway with no one trying to stop him.

Ms Hüster said she saw Mr Goecke with his pet dachshund before the start of the performance.

“When I realized what he was doing I screamed,” she said, adding that the attack was “premeditated”.

The opera house has confirmed that the incident took place and that dog excrement was involved.

Ms. Hüster said she immediately left the building and traveled to the nearest police station, where she filed a criminal complaint.

Wiebke Hüster described a performance of In the Dutch Mountains as 'shame and impertinence' - Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln

Wiebke Hüster described a performance of In the Dutch Mountains as ‘shame and impertinence’ – Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln

Mr Goecke, 49, is one of Germany’s most famous choreographers and last year was awarded the German Dance Prize, the most prestigious award in the country’s ballet world.

It seems he was humbled by a review written by Ms Hüster of his latest work, In the Dutch Mountains, which she described as “shame and impertinence”.

Ms Hüster said the performance, inspired by hours of staring at the sea in a seaside hotel, would “both drive me crazy and leave you bored.”

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described the attack as an attack on press freedom.

The incident shows that the ballet director “thinks that it is above all a critical judgment and, in case of doubt, it can be proved right by using violence,” the newspaper wrote.

The opera house said it immediately apologized, adding that the attack contradicted the house’s values ​​of “interaction and respectful dialogue”.

Director Laura Berman said they would now consider whether to take disciplinary action against Mr Goecke.

A growing trend

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, this is just the latest in a series of incidents that show a growing tendency among artists and actors to intimidate critics.

Karin Beier, the director of Hamburg’s Playhouse, recently described the critics as “s— on the art sleeve,” the newspaper noted.

Last summer, an actor with a theater in Berlin threatened one critic that “your time is over, dear”.

The German journalists’ union commented: “An artist must withstand criticism, even if it seems excessive. Anyone who reacts to criticism with violence is not acceptable.”

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