Marco Goecke — the disgraced German ballet director behind poopgate



No one likes to be criticized. Even if it is constructive, most people’s egos react badly to it. Usually this comes out as a grimaced smile and reluctantly eked “no worries”. But for Marco Goecke, head of the Hanover State Opera ballet company, he chose a rather large measure.

Because of one damning review that called his upcoming opera, In the Dutch Mountain, “boring” and “disjointed”, the aggrieved Goecke decided to smear the critic’s back with a dog hangover.

Marco Goecke (MarcoGoecke002.jpg)

Marco Goecke (MarcoGoecke002.jpg)

Last Saturday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) ballet critic Wiebke Hüster wrote, “One alternative between a state of feeling out of sorts and being killed by boredom,” about the Goecke’s new show in the FAZ newspaper. She also compared the experience of watching it to passively watching the sea from “behind glass, left to sit in the heat, looking at a winter beach, like a state of permanent retirement,” which greatly by Goecke.

When he saw Hüster during an interval of another show, Faith – Love – Hope, which premiered later that evening, the German director threatened to ban her from entering the opera house, as well as accusing her of being responsible for theatergoers canceling their membership subscriptions. . He then soiled the critic with his dog’s poo in the attack. According to the German media, his pet dachshund, Gustav (who is famous in his own right), always accompanies him everywhere and Gustav produced the excrement just moments before.

Marco Goecke (Marco Goecke)

Marco Goecke (Marco Goecke)

Hüster later recounted the incident saying that Goecke had “suddenly pulled the bag out of his pocket. With the open side of the bag, he rubbed the dog excrement in my face. When I felt what he had done, I screamed.”

Immediately afterwards a member of the opera house’s press office cleaned Hüster’s face in a nearby bathroom, before Hüster drove to a police station in the center of Hanover where she reported the attack.

Since then there has been an outpouring of shame. The Lower Saxony chairman of the German Association of Journalists, Frank Rieger, said the attack was “nothing less than an attack on freedom of the press”. Furthermore an editorial in FAZ described it as a “terrible incident” and “an attempt at intimidation towards our free, critical artistic appreciation… The incident shows in its appalling manner of violence what is often thought and said in artistic circles about criticism and critics. .”

As a result, the director has been suspended from her job and the artistic director of the opera house, Laura Berman, apologized to her. “Immediately after the incident, we sought to contact the journalist and apologize to her personally and also publicly,” Berman said, before adding that management would “take the relevant legal steps to explore the work of ballet director Marco Goecke, consult together and then act on this internal staff matter”.

What is Goecke’s answer to all this you might be wondering? On the same day he was suspended from his job, he gave a statement saying that he stands by his decision, defending himself by saying that the journalist had done his dirty work for years.

The famous ballet director who was invited to dinner with Prince Caroline of Monaco in Paris and who won the German Dance prize last year is in awe.

Goecke was born in Wuppertal, Germany and trained as a dancer at the Heinz-Bosl-Stiftung in Munich as well as the Royal Academy of The Hague. After graduating in 1995 he went on to work at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and Theater Hagen. By 2006 the international press, including the Ballet and Tanz newspapers, were announcing Marco Goecke as the great new choreographic talent. In December 2006, Goecke even won the Nijinsky Award in Monaco for the most prolific and outstanding choreographer in the field of international dance, and a year later he was nominated for the Deutsche Theaterpreis 2007.

Since then he has created over 60 works for the likes of The Hamburg Ballet, Leipziger Ballett, Nederlands Dans Theatre, Norwegian National Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, The Berlin State Ballet, Sao Paulo Companhia de Dança and Ballet Zurich , and is regarded as one of the most famous choreographers on the scene in the international world of dance.

The Scapino Ballet Rotterdam has described his choreography as, “sensationally idiosyncratic and innovative. In a dark atmosphere, full of praise and magic, he takes the audience deep inside with an absurd dance – the likes of which he has never seen before.” For example, his last creation for Nederlands Dans Theatre, Hello Earth, saw his dancers playing on popcorn.

“Learning Chinese is like dancing its choreography. With Marco you are always pushing against your own limits. You are forced to go to extremes,” Rein Putkamer, a dancer at Scapino Ballet, said of working with the director.

“Being overwhelmed with love, worry and pain – that’s Wir Sagen uns Dunkles for me. The feelings of the piece are so strong that you become breathless, but your body sheds most of its raw material faster than you can think. They can be painful and filled with tender loneliness. To be in Marco’s world is to grapple with deep darkness and light; a duality that leaves you melancholic and very soft,” says another dancer at NDT, Toon Lobach.

However, it is unclear whether Goecke will ever return to the ballet stage. Watch this space as the story develops.

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