German ballet director Marco Goecke fired after smearing feces on dance critic’s face

A man in a long jacket and small round sunglasses leans on the railing of a curving inside staircase
Marco Goecke joined the Hannover Opera House as ballet director in spring 2019. On Thursday, he was fired.
(Christophe Gateau / Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

A German ballet director has been fired by the Hannover Opera House after he smeared dog feces on the face of a female dance critic over the weekend.

Ballet director Marco Goecke was terminated Thursday after apologizing a day earlier for smearing dog feces on the face of a critic he spotted in the audience of the ballet “Faith - Love - Hope.” Geocke was suspended after the filth attack on Wiebke Hüster of German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“This thoughtless attack on the journalist and the person Wiebke Hüster violated too many principles of the State Theater, massively damaged the reputation of the house and last but not least has criminal consequences. Marco Goecke can understand that too,” read a translation of a statement in German posted Thursday on the opera’s website.


“Therefore, in an extensive personal conversation, we agreed to terminate his contract as ballet director by mutual consent and with immediate effect.”

Laguna Beach police said the incident on 3rd Avenue is believed to have happened overnight or early Thursday morning.

Feb. 10, 2023

The opera said it recognized the difference between “the employed ballet director and the creative choreographer Marco Goecke” and would not remove works he had choreographed from its revival repertoire.

Hüster, 57, told the Daily Beast on Tuesday that Goecke “didn’t just throw [the feces] at me. He pulled out the bag with the open side of the bag and rubbed it in my face brutally, so the dog poop would stick in my face.”

The writer told the outlet that Goecke had approached her as if to discuss her recent bad review of his ballet “In the Dutch Mountain,” which he had staged at the Hague with Nederlands Dans Theater, but instead accused her of attacking him personally in her writing. He threatened to have her banned from the opera house. Then he pulled the bag of poop from inside his jacket and smushed it on her face.

“When I realized what he had done, I screamed. I was so shocked, so panicked,” she said.

Many public health officials say the success of COVID-19 sewage surveillance should make it a regular tool in tracking infectious diseases.

March 21, 2022

German media outlets reportedly said the feces came from Goecke’s often-present pet dachshund, Gustav.

Goecke, who accused Hüster of writing “often nasty reviews,” said earlier in the week, “I apologize for the fact that I finally blew my top, but I also ask for a certain understanding at least for the reasons why this happened.”


The opera house named deputy ballet director Christian Blossfeld to take over Goecke’s management role until it makes a decision on who will fill the position permanently.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.