Call Me Strict, But I Think A Director Smearing Feces On A Ballet Critic’s Face For A Negative Review Warrants A Bit More Than A Suspension

This kind of conduct by an employee doesn’t require an investigation. Nobody needs to know why he did it. A responsible employer whose employee engages in this crime against any individual—yes. even a critic—has to fire him for cause, immediately and without hesitation.

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the Hannover state opera house’s ballet director Marco Goecke—that’s him above, looking like the son of the sinister Nazi whose head melts in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”— confronted its dance critic, Wiebke Huester, during the intermission of a premiere. Goecke, was furious over a nasty review she wrote of a production he staged at The Hague, and accused her of being responsible for people canceling their season tickets. Then he took dog excrement out of a paper bag he had brought for the occasion and smeared the woman’s face with the guck as she screamed. Huester has filed a criminal complaint.

On its website, the opera house said Huester’s “personal integrity” was violated “in an unspeakable way.” I wonder who came up with those weasel words. It added that the opera house had officially apologized to her. After all, the post said, Goecke’s “impulsive reaction” violated the ground rules of the theater and that “he caused massive damage to the Hannover State Opera and State Ballet.”


So, it said, he is being suspended and banned from the opera house until further notice,though the lunatic will be given an opportunity to apologize “comprehensively” and explain himself to theater management “before further steps are announced.”Needless to say, except in German apparently, no apology can possibly cover a premeditated act of violence like what Goecke did. Nor is there any explanation that can justify the act. He doesn’t deserve the opportunity to apologize. Moreover, what he did to the critic (for doing her job, however offensively to him) is signature significance. That director is unstable, untrustworthy, and dangerous. Is the opera house management really going to be persuaded by a “sincere” claim that “That just wasn’t me” and “It’s just that I care, so, so much!”? He’s an unprofessional, juvenile wacko. He doesn’t deserve an opportunity to spin what is self-explanatory.

When I read an earlier AP report of this incident that included no details about Goecke, I immediately assumed that he must be an extraordinary director, making this ridiculous story a particularly odoriferous example of The King’s Pass, #11 on the rationalization list. Bingo! Last year he was awarded Germany’s main dance prize and has been a star in Europe for more than a decade. He is also known for his beloved pet dachshund, so now we know where the contents of that bag came from.


6 thoughts on “Call Me Strict, But I Think A Director Smearing Feces On A Ballet Critic’s Face For A Negative Review Warrants A Bit More Than A Suspension

  1. At least this version of white on white crime is not irreversible.

    This may be harsh, perhaps an overreaction, but the way the Hannover Opera honchos are handling this so far reminds me of the “good German” during the Holocaust.
    Would they be as mealy-mouthed if the critic was BIPOC?

    • I’m guessing the odds are pretty good he’s gay, so he’s got that going for him. And the critic may be straight. So that’s probably no small part of the calculus. Always problematic when the marginalized demographics don’t line up neatly.

      • Being a lifetime dachshund lover and owner (now retired), I hope they don’t decide the proper thing to do is to put the doxie down.

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