Goecke’s attack on a woman comes from a man: a feminist attack on the ballet director at a classical opera house
The author of the book “Ok Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind” is a journalist based in New York. Follow her on social media. Her opinions are her own in this commentary. CNN has more opinion on it.
None of us know for sure what Goecke’s attitudes toward women are. But in an art world more broadly and a ballet world specifically dominated by men and male power, it seems relevant that the criticism Goecke met with violence came from a woman. This is, after all, why so many men commit acts of violence against women: because they want to control what those women say and do; because they don’t feel they are getting sufficient feminine deference and respect.
The statement also characterized Goecke’s attack as an “impulsive reaction” – but one has to wonder who happens to have a bag of dog feces with them at an opera house.
The humiliating act was an attempt to intimidate the free, critical view of art, according to an article published on Sunday. Hster filed a criminal complaint, and the police are investigating the incident.
The dance critic for the daily newspaper is Hster. The ballet director at the State Opera has been Goecke. The piece that prompted the poor review was “In the Dutch Mountains,” his first full-length program at the Hannover Opera House. She wrote that audiences might go insane and be killed by boredom if they watch it.
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He did not just throw it 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,” she said. “One moment we were still talking and the next moment his fist was in my face. When I realized what he had done, I screamed. I panicked and was so shocked. You can not imagine.
This is an ugly story of unhinged rage and violence (yes, smearing dog feces in a person’s face is a violent assault). Goecke apologized to Hüster and all affected for his “absolutely unacceptable action,” in a statement sent to CNN Tuesday. He didn’t address the gender in his apology, but that may be a story of a man flying off the handle because he was challenged by a woman.
Many women are familiar with a fear that Hster describes. Women organize a huge amount of aspects of their lives around avoiding male violence in the same way they organize getting your car keys ready. There are a few places in which we can let our guard down, including at work and in crowded public spaces, as opera houses aren’t known to be dens of violent crime.
The arts and art criticism have a low number of women in them. In the US, more than two-thirds of film critics are men, and these male critics are more likely than female ones to give bad reviews to films with women in leading roles, according to a 2018 study.
In the visual arts, women dominate undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in creative arts and design, but men make up the overwhelming majority of artists who are represented by commercial galleries, whose work is sold at auction and whose work is featured at exhibitions; the Met and the British Museum have never had female directors, and the Louvre just hired its first female director in 2021 (the man who held the position before her is being charged with antiquities trafficking).
And in ballet specifically, men still dominate, making up two-thirds of artistic directors at major ballet companies around the world and nearly 70% of choreographers in the largest American ballets programmed in the 2020-2021 season.
Female dancers have also complained (and at times sued) over what they say is sexist and degrading treatment. Dancers all over the world have accused directors and male dancers of harassment and abuse. Efforts to combat both sexism and abuse of dancers in ballet have been met with the same push- pull as broader efforts to combat sexism in society, with some eager for change and others resistant.
There was a high level of male entitlement and aggression that was shown in Hannover because of the males dominance over an artform that values female strength and vulnerability. The Great Man who is also a raging narcissist is a familiar trope for a reason (and the great artist who is also a raging narcissist has a little support from science). A harsh critique of something we worked hard on may hurt some feelings, but most people don’t retaliate.
The opera house is in charge of Goecke’s future, while the police are handling the matter. Hopefully, he learns that he is not above the law and his work is not above criticism.
The conduct of a ballet director who has been fired for smearing dog feces on a critic’s face
The director of a leading German ballet company is being investigated by police and has been fired for smearing dog feces on a critic’s face after taking offense to a review she wrote.
“I was completely guileless when he approached me because he spoke calmly, otherwise I would have turned away,” Hster said. The bystanders were in shock, and screaming and crying.
He realized that it was a shameful act in the heat of the moment after a nervous strain of two premieres in quick succession.
The journalist had been “brutantly violated in her personal integrity”, and the Opera apologized “personally and also publicly,” according to a press release.
Rieger said that an artist must endure criticism in order to be successful. “Anyone who reacts to criticism with violence is not acceptable.”