German ballet director apologises for attacking critic with faeces over ‘hurtful’ review

World

A German ballet director has apologised after smearing dog faeces on the face of a newspaper critic whose reviews he disagreed with.

Marco Goecke was suspended from his post as ballet chief at the Hannover state opera over the weekend incident.

He is said to have approached dance critic Wiebke Huester, who writes for the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, during the interval of a premiere at the opera house on Saturday and asked what she was doing there.

The newspaper said that Mr Goecke, who apparently felt provoked by a recent review she wrote about a production he staged in the Netherlands, threatened to ban her from the ballet and accused her of being responsible for people cancelling season tickets in Hannover.

He then pulled out a paper bag filled with faeces and smeared her face with the contents.

On Monday, the theatre’s management called on him to apologise “comprehensively” and explain himself.

In a written statement, Mr Goecke said: “I would like to apologise sincerely to all concerned, first and foremost to Ms Huester, for my absolutely unacceptable act.

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“In retrospect, I am clearly aware that this was a disgraceful act in the heat of the moment and an overreaction,” he added.

But he said that it is time for the media to “rethink a certain form of destructive and hurtful reporting that damages the whole cultural sector” and criticised Ms Huester for what he described as “often nasty reviews”.

He also highlighted the “nervous strain” resulting from two premieres in quick succession as a reason for his actions.

“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.

He explained that his elderly dachshund had defecated earlier, and he had packed it into a bag planning to dispose of it.

While Mr Goecke says he acted in the heat of the moment, Ms Huester has contended it was a premeditated attack.

He now faces an investigation on suspicion of bodily harm and slander after Ms Huester filed a criminal complaint following the incident.

The critic has said she was shocked by Mr Goecke’s statement on Tuesday.

“What kind of an apology is this supposed to be?” she asked on 3sat television, claiming it was an attempted justification of his actions, German news agency dpa reported.

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