One of Germany’s most prominent choreographers has attacked a critic with dog feces after she said his latest work would make audiences “die of boredom”.
Ballet director Marco Goecke allegedly accosted critic Wiebke Hüster during the intermission of a ballet premiere at the Hanover Opera House on Saturday night and threatened to throw her out of the building.
Ms. Hüster, a cultural critic for the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, said he accused her of writing personal attacks on artists.
After becoming enraged, he took a paper bag full of dog feces out of his pocket and smeared it over her face.
He then turned and left the crowded foyer with no one trying to stop him.
Mrs. Hüster said that she had seen Mr. Goecke with his pet dachshund before the start of the performance.
“When I realized what he was doing, I screamed,” she said, adding that the attack was “premeditated.”
The opera house has confirmed that the incident did occur and that dog faeces were involved.
Ms Hüster said she immediately left the building and traveled to the nearest police station where she filed a criminal complaint.
Mr Goecke, 49, is one of Germany’s best-known choreographers and last year was awarded the German Dance Prize, the most prestigious award in the country’s ballet scene.
He seems to have taken offense at a review Mr. Hüster wrote of his most recent work, In the Dutch Mountains, which she described as “an embarrassment and an impertinence”.
Ms. Hüster commented that the performance, which was inspired by staring at the ocean for hours in a seaside hotel, would “both drive you crazy and make you die of boredom”.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has described the attack as an attack on press freedom.
The incident shows that the ballet director “thinks above all that he is critical and, when in doubt, can prove himself right by using violence,” the newspaper writes.
The opera house said it immediately apologized, adding that the attack contradicted the house’s values of “respectful interaction and dialogue”.
Artistic director Laura Berman said they would now consider whether to take disciplinary action against Mr Goecke.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, this is just the latest in a series of incidents that demonstrate an increasing tendency for artists and actors to intimidate critics.
Karin Beier, the director of the Hamburg Playhouse, recently described critics as “s— on art’s sleeve,” the paper noted.
Last summer, an actor from a Berlin theater threatened a critic that “your time is up, honey.”
The German Journalists’ Union responded by saying, “An artist has to endure criticism, even if it seems excessive. Anyone who responds to criticism with violence will not be accepted.”