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Dog shit after negative review of NDT piece 'In The Dutch Mountains'. NDT: "acting is contrary to our values"

'In "In the Dutch Mountains", Marco Goecke's new ballet evening with the virtuoso Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague, the audience is alternately driven mad and killed by boredom.' Dixit Wiebke Hüster, dance critic of the Frankfürter Algemeine, one of Germany's largest quality newspapers. The critic did not have a good word to say about the premiere, last Thursday, in The Hague. 

Marco Goecke, the choreographer of this dance piece, was not amused. At a subsequent premiere, in Hannover, two days after the Dutch premiere, he waited for the dance spectator in the foyer with a bag of dog shit in his hands, which, after several curses, he smeared in her face. 

New escalation

After the stud in the face that Volkskrant reviewer Hein Janssen was once allowed to receive from an offended actor, Goecke's action is an escalation. All the more so because this is an action that was premeditated. After all, the incident took place during the interval of the performance, so the perpetrator must have been hiding the bag of poo in his tailcoat for the entire first half of the evening. 

The Frankfurter Algemeine takes the matter up high. Apologies from Hanover Opera management are not enough. The newspaper states: "We take very seriously the deliberate belittling and humiliation resulting from the prepared scolding attack. It testifies to the fatal self-image of a personality in a heavily subsidised board position who believes he is above any critical judgement and, when in doubt, can prove himself right by using violence. In times when sensitivity and vigilance are proclaimed at all levels in the art world, this is an extraordinary perfusion."

Cross-border behaviour

The question raised by the paper is indeed relevant. At a time when conduct of executives in the cultural sector is quite often under a magnifying glass, one might wonder how Goecke deals with dissent in his day-to-day work. Does he take a bag of poop to every rehearsal for reluctant dancers?

The newspaper also states that the escalating behaviour of this dance leader fits a pattern in which critics are being treated increasingly aggressively by actors and directors. They are attacks on press freedom.

Meanwhile, the Hanover Opera has revealed that Goecke's action might affect his appointment as artistic director of the prestigious theatre.

Dutch Dance Theatre reacts with shock. In a statement, artistic director Emily Molnar states:

"We have learned of the incident that took place in the foyer of State Theatre Hannover last weekend between ballet director Marco Goecke and a reviewer from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

Marco Goecke is a valued associate choreographer at NDT with whom we have enjoyed working for many years, resulting in beautiful dance creations.

We deeply regret that this incident took place, in which Marco Goecke violated his personal integrity. This action is contrary to our values that we hold as our guiding principles in all our collaborations."

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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