Arts critics are used to trashing subpar performances with negative reviews, but they are rarely on the receiving end of an all-too-literal smear campaign.
This weekend though, the chief choreographer of Hanover State Opera smeared the face of a dance critic with dog excrement after she gave a negative review of his latest show, German newspapers wrote.
Wiebke Hüster, a dance critic for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), was attending the premiere on Saturday of the ballet “Glaube – Liebe – Hoffnung” (Faith – Love – Hope) at the Hanover State Opera.
During the interval, Marco Goecke, one of the production´s choreographers, confronted Hüster in the theatre´s crowded foyer and smeared her face with dog excrement, newspapers said.
Goecke, who is Hanover State Ballet´s chief choreographer and director, threatened to ban Hüster from the theatre before removing a bag filled with the feces and wiping its contents in Hüster´s face, FAZ reported on Sunday.
The exchange followed Hüster´s negative review of Goecke’s new show “In the Dutch Mountains”, which was published in the FAZ on Saturday.
Hüster wrote that watching the show, which recently opened at Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague, was like being “alternately driven mad and killed by boredom”.
The opera house apologised for the episode in a statement, adding that it was checking which steps to take against the director in accordance with labour law. It did not give details of what happened.
“We contacted the journalist immediately after the incident and apologised to her personally and also publicly,” Laura Berman, the opera house´s artistic director, said in a statement. “We very much regret that our audience has been disturbed by this incident.”
The opera house couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
FAZ said that a police investigation has been launched, also suggesting that Hüster´s public shaming was worrying news for the arts world.
“This humiliating incident is not only an act of bodily harm but also an attempt to intimidate our free, critical view of art,” the newspaper said.