Award-winning choreographer sacked by opera house after smearing dog faeces in critic's face

16 February 2023, 19:56 | Updated: 16 February 2023, 20:38

An award-winning German choreographer who smeared dog faeces across the face of a critic over a negative review has been sacked by the opera house he worked for.
An award-winning choreographer who smeared dog faeces across the face of a critic over a negative review has been sacked by the opera house he worked for. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

An award-winning choreographer has been sacked by Hanover State Opera after smearing dog faeces across a critic's face over a negative review.

Marco Goecke, 50, attacked dance critic Wiebke Hüster after her less-than-positive review was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

The theatre, who had already suspended Goecke, said in a statement his "irresponsible actions have deeply unsettled the audience, irritated the public, violated all the principles of the house and massively damaged the reputation of the Hanover State Opera".

Goecke, who had been the opera house's chief choreographer, admitted wiping faeces on the critic's face and said that both sides had mutually agreed to end his contract.

The renowned theatre said the former director's ballets would still feature on its programme moving forward, but that the his contract had been terminated and he would no longer work there.

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Goecke apologised for his actions on Tuesday in a written statement: "I would like to apologise sincerely to all concerned, first and foremost to Ms Huester, for my absolutely unacceptable act," he said.

He added: "In retrospect, I am clearly aware that this was a disgraceful act in the heat of the moment and an overreaction.'

Goecke apologised for the incident on Tuesday, calling it a 'disgraceful actin in the heat of the moment'.
Goecke apologised for the incident on Tuesday, calling it a 'disgraceful actin in the heat of the moment'. Picture: Alamy

But he asked the media to "rethink a certain form of destructive and hurtful reporting that damages the whole cultural sector" and criticised Ms Huester for her "often nasty reviews".

The award-winning choreographer pointed to the "nervous strain" that came as a result from two premieres in quick succession as a reason for his behaviour.

"I apologise for the fact that I finally blew my top, but I also ask for a certain understanding at least for the reasons why this happened," he wrote.

The incident took place after the journalist was spotted by Goecke in the foyer during a rendition of the Hanover State Opera's Glaube - Liebe -Hoffnung' (Faith - Love - Hope) - a show Goecke had co-choreographed.

The choreographer's outrage, however, pertained to another review of Hüster's, following her critique of his previous show "In The Dutch Mountains".

Marco Goecke
Marco Goecke. Picture: Alamy

The show, which recently opened at Nederlands Dans Theater in The Netherlands, was compared to being "alternately driven mad and killed by boredom".

After first threatening to ban the reviewer during the interval, Goecke, who is known to carry his miniature dachshund in his bag, then removed a bag filled with faeces before proceeding to smear it across the critic's face.

The shocking moment, which took place on Saturday, was witnessed by countless onlookers according to reports in the FAZ.

The critic contacted police following the incident.

Hannover State Opera House, 2020.
Hannover State Opera House, 2020. Picture: Alamy

After it indefinitely suspended Goecke, the opera house said Goecke's actions and "impulsive behaviour" went against its code of conduct.

It said the incident had tarnished its reputation and left witnesses and staff "extremely unsettled".

"We contacted the journalist immediately after the incident and apologised to her personally and also publicly," said Laura Berman, artistic director of the Hanover State Opera.

"We very much regret that our audience has been disturbed by this incident."

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