A furious ballet director smeared dog poo over a journalist's face after she gave him a bad review.
Marco Goecke, who has been the director at the Hanover Theatre since 2019 and last year won the prestigious German Dance prize, was incensed after Wiebke Hüster said she had been "alternately driven mad and killed by boredom” during one of his shows.
So, when she attended another one of his performances he stormed up to her at the half-time interval and subjected her to a tirade of abuse.
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He claimed that after Hüster called the show – In The Dutch Mountains – “boring” and “disjointed,” dozens of theatregoers had cancelled their membership subscriptions and threatened to ban her from the opera house.
Goecke’s pet dachshund, Gustav, is almost a celebrity in his own right – accompanying the flamboyant ballet director to red carpet premieres and galas. It’s understood that Gustav had produced the excrement that Goecke used in the attack shortly before the half-time confrontation.
Hüster, the ballet critic of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), told reporters that after shouting at her, Goecke “suddenly pulled the bag from 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.”
“I can assure you that it was not an impulsive act,” she told the BBC. “He had planned this. I consider it an act against the freedom of [the] press”.
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The poo-smeared critic was helped by a member of theatre staff to a nearby bathroom where she washed off the excrement before heading to a police station to report the assault.
Hanover State Opera has suspended Goecke, saying his "impulsive reaction" went against its rules of conduct.
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They added that Goecke "extremely unsettled the audience, the employees of the house and the general public and thus massively damaged the State Ballet”.
The opera house’s artistic director, Laura Berman has offered a full apology to Hüster and the FAZ.
An FAZ editorial described the attack as an “horrendous incident” and an “attempt at intimidation towards our free, critical artistic appreciation”.
The director seemed at least partly apologetic, conceding to German radio station NDR, that his 'choice of [expressing himself] wasn't super, absolutely.'
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