German Ballet Chief "Smeared Dog Poop" On Critic's Face For Bad Review

An award-winning German ballet director allegedly smeared dog faeces on the face of a prominent critic at the weekend premiere of a new show, prompting a police investigation.

Marco Goecke confronted journalist Wiebke Huester in the foyer at the Hanover State Opera during an intermission of a performance on Saturday, Huester's employer said, adding he was furious at her review of a previous show.

The ballet chief "pulled a paper bag full of animal excrement out and smeared the contents on the face of our dance critic", according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

During a break in Saturday's performance of "Belief -- Love -- Hope," Goecke was incensed by Huester's negative review of his show "In the Dutch Mountains", performed in The Hague earlier.

Goecke allegedly threatened to bar the critic from the Hanover State Opera and blamed her for cancelled subscriptions at the theatre.

Huester reported the incident to the police, who said they were investigating the alleged assault.

The public humiliation was also "an attempt to intimidate our free, critical view of art", the FAZ said.

The Hanover State Opera said in a statement it "very much regrets" the incident on Saturday night.

"We contacted the journalist immediately after the incident and apologised to her personally," the opera director Laura Berman said.

The arts institution would examine the disciplinary steps it could take against Goecke "and then act in this internal personnel matter", Berman said.

"We deeply regret that our audience was disturbed by this incident," she added.

Goecke, ballet director at the Hanover theatre since 2019, was the 2022 recipient of the German Dance Prize.

The next performance of his new ballet in Hanover is scheduled for February 24, according to the opera house's website.