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Former ballet director Marco Goecke

Photo: Christophe Gateau / dpa

The proceedings against the former ballet director of the Hanover State Opera, Marco Goecke, were discontinued in exchange for a fine. The smearing of a journalist with dog excrement was considered a physical insult, said a spokeswoman for the Hanover public prosecutor's office on Thursday. Goecke had to pay a mid-four-figure sum to a non-profit association that deals with conflict resolution. The dismissal of the proceedings was first reported by the »Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung« (HAZ).

On February 11, 2023, Goecke had smeared an author of the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« with dog excrement in the foyer of the opera house of the capital of Lower Saxony. Previously, he had accused her of always writing "bad, personal" reviews. The Hanover State Opera parted ways with the choreographer in the week after the assault. According to the artistic director, his contract as ballet director has been terminated with immediate effect by mutual agreement. The attack was also reported by international media.

After the crime, both the ballet critic Wiebke Hüster and the »FAZ« had filed a complaint against Goecke. The dance critic was satisfied with the outcome of the proceedings. "For me, everything is fine the way it is," Hüster told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ). "I don't want any money from Marco Goecke," she said. Whatever he would have had to pay me, I would have donated anyway. I purposely refrained from doing so. Donating money is nice – but do I want to go through this process for it? Then I would have had to meet Marco Goecke again. And I don't want that."

After the dog excrement attack, Goecke was investigated for simple assault and insult. The victim felt the act as a severe humiliation, but did not suffer any physical impairment or damage to health, said the authority spokeswoman. Therefore, the act was not classified as bodily harm. In addition, Goecke had no criminal record, had shown insight into wrongdoing and had to accept negative professional consequences. The dismissal of the proceedings took place in coordination with the Hanover District Court.

In an interview in September, Goecke himself cited burnout as the reason for the attack with dachshund poop. "It's tragic what happened, and it's also to be regretted," the 51-year-old told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. At the same time, the choreographer reported on new plans, including with the State Opera in Prague. The most important thing for him, however, is to take care of his dachshund Gustav, who is now 15 years old. According to Goecke's statements, it was an act of affect. Actually, he had wanted to dispose of Gustav's pile in a plastic bag.