The director of the German ballet is unapologetic about the dog faeces incident

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The director of an award-winning German ballet company who smeared his dog’s poo on a dance critic’s face has failed to apologise, saying he was responding to years of “destructive criticism”.

Marco Goecke admitted in an interview with the broadcaster NDR that his “method of attack” was certainly not “superb” but said that he acted urgently when he saw the journalist, Wiebke Hüster.

Goecke, winner of the 2022 German dance prize, is being investigated by police on charges of criminal assault and has been suspended from his position as head of the Hanover State Opera ballet company and banned from entering the opera house.

The incident has caused a wave of criticism. The theater in northern Germany, where Goecke has been working since 2019, urged him to apologize and explain his actions to management, saying he had caused “enormous damage” to his reputation and had “deeply offended” Hüster. .

Meanwhile, Leander Haussmann, chief film and theater director, told NDR Kultur: “Here’s a colleague who has lost his own importance. This is an offence. And if he does not ask for forgiveness he will no longer have a place in our ranks; he is no longer an artist. We’re meant to be human, a moral institution, we don’t do anything like this, even in the name of art, and it won’t get any support.”

Falko Mohrs, the minister of science and culture in the state of Lower Saxony, where Hanover is located, said the incident was not justifiable. “Everyone has to be able to deal with criticism,” he said. “It is unacceptable and unacceptable to use violence and attack someone.”

Police are relying on witness accounts because Goecke disposed of the dog excrement and Hüster cleaned his face immediately afterwards.

Both Goecke and Hüster reported meeting for the first time during the intermission of Goecke’s latest production on Saturday evening. Goecke said he approached Hüster and wanted to talk to her about his review of his recent performance with the Netherlands Dance Theater in The Hague. Hüster, who has been a dance critic at the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper for the past two decades, called the performance “boring” and “disjointed” in her report.

“I told her ‘I’m a person’,” he said in the NDR interview, describing her response as “aggressive, arrogant and condescending”. He then admitted to smearing her face with his dog’s excrement, saying it was not premeditated but that he acted “in the heat of the moment”.

He said: “My old dachshund had done his business in his bag, which sometimes happens at his age, and I had just packed the poo into a bag and was trying to throw it away.”

Hüster, in her version of events, said that Goecke approached her in the crowded foyer and blocked her path, telling her that she should be banned from entering the theater because she had written negative reviews of his productions in always.

“I told him ‘no, that’s not true, there are performances of yours that I really admire. It’s not true,’” she said. “Then, suddenly, he pulled this bag out of his pocket. With the open side of the bag, he rubbed the dog excrement into my face. When I felt what he had done, I screamed. I was in a panic.”

People around her were stunned into silence, she said. One woman later told her how she chased Goecke through the hallway. “She tried to get help and grab the man, but someone came from the theater and took Marco Goecke to a separate room,” she said.

Goecke said he regretted the incident but did not offer an apology. “I think the methods I chose were definitely not great. Definitely. I think from a societal point of view, using such a method would not be approved or respected,” he said, sitting on a park bench with his 14-year-old dog, Gustav .

He added: “I’m also someone who has never done anything like that, and for this, of course, I’m a little bit upset. And the method I used was definitely not good.”

Gustav is a personality in himself, accompanying Goecke everywhere. The dog inspired his 2019 performance with the Paris Opera, Dogs Sleep.

Goecke appeared to try to defend the attack by implying that it was similar revenge for the years of negative criticism he had received.

“She threw shit at me for over 20 years. And at some point I asked myself if I want that, how would other people who work hard work, after having dirt thrown at them over such a long period of time. I don’t think anyone who is hardworking would put up with that for any length of time,” he said.

Hüster said in an interview with the BBC that she was surprised to hear from colleagues that Goecke was allowed to take a bow at the end of the night’s performance, “acting as if nothing had happened”.

She called the incident “an attack on the freedom of the press”, which she believed was premeditated.

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