Scandal in Hannover - Choreographer Marco Goecke attacked a critic

On Saturday 11 February, an incident took place at the Hannover State Opera House between choreographer Marco Goecke and the dance critic of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wiebke Hüster. After verbal insults, Goecke threw dog faeces in the face of the journalist. At the same time, this was not the first escalated situation between the choreographer and a member of the journalistic community.

Scandal in Hannover - Choreographer Marco Goecke attacked a critic

Scandal in Hannover - Choreographer Marco Goecke attacked a critic

The attack, which took place during the intermission of the premiere of the triptych Glaube-Liebe-Hoffnung (Faith-Love-Hope) by Guillaume Hulot, Medhi Walerski and Marco Goecke, was reported by media across Europe.

After the first part of the programme, Goecke approached critic Wiebke Hüste, whom he had never met in person, in the theatre foyer, verbally attacked her and threatened to have her banned from the theatre. Apparently, the resentment was caused by her review of his previous full-length premiere for NDT, In the Dutch Mountains (9 February 2023), in which the author wrote that the production "alternately drove her mad and bored her." He accused her of causing audiences to cancel subscriptions to the Hanover State Opera, where Goecke was artistic director, and in a fit of rage, he eventually threw dog excrement in her face from a paper bag he pulled from his pocket.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeintung, the critic's employer, has already issued a statement saying that a criminal complaint was immediately filed against Goecke and that an investigation into his actions is actively underway. The Hannover State Opera immediately responded by suspending Goecke from his directorship until further notice and immediately banning him from entering the building and working with the ballet company. In an official statement on their website, the company said they contacted the journalist immediately after the incident and apologized to her personally. "Marco Goecke's impulsive reaction to the journalist grossly violated all the Hanover State Opera's code of conduct, upset other spectators, staff and the general public, and caused enormous damage to the State Opera and the ballet."

The critics and columnists of the FAZ further stated in the article, "We consider this shameful act not only an act of bodily harm, but also an attack to intimidate free criticism of art. We take the deliberate defamation and public humiliation in the form of the planned excrement attack very seriously. It is evidence of the infinite self-confidence of a person in a high position who believes that he is above all critical opinions, against which he can, if necessary, define himself by the use of violence. Particularly in these times that preach sensitivity and consideration, we see such behaviour as extremely treacherous."

The Dutch company NDT, where the artist is a collaborating choreographer, also expressed deep regret over Goecke's action. "We deeply regret the act in which Marco Goecke attacked the personal integrity of another person. Such an act is in direct contradiction to the values on which we base all our collaborations." The aforementioned production, which was the catalyst for the incident, remains in the theatre's repertoire for the time being; no further information has been released by either party about Goecke's future fate at NDT.


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