In response to last week’s “Emotionally Charged Dance Workshop Questions Inclusion”
Last week, The Catalyst published an article titled “Emotionally Charged Dance Workshop Questions Inclusion.” Though writing about Dance Workshop is nothing unusual for the paper, last week the article attempted to explore deeper themes, as evidenced by the title. However, we failed.
Due to a lack of proper research, we were unsuccessful in providing our readers with fully informed insight to the complications that were a part of Dance Workshop. The article portrayed DW as a place full of inclusive practices and role-model behavior. In reality this was far from the case. The final speech would not have existed if it weren’t for the hard-fought efforts of several choreographers of color.
In our initial article, these efforts were attributed to the leaders of DW: “the leaders of Dance Workshop wanted to make sure that this performance provided a platform for marginalized people who don’t always have such direct access to so many people within the framework of this campus.” This is patently false, as such a platform was only achieved through the persistence of those who have been disenfranchised. This was not the only act of erasure we engaged in, unfortunately; The Catalyst also failed to address the history of discriminatory casting decisions that have occurred with DW in the past. Additionally, we included an image of Ellen Wen, Trevon Newmann, and Jaiel Mitchell during the finale in which these concerns were addressed, yet we failed to mention the finale in our initial report.
Overall, this article was a grand oversight. Several staff members were concerned with the article pre-publication, but rather than dismissing it for a rewrite (as we should have), we attempted to patchwork the piece together and amend some of the parts we found to be tone-deaf and ignorant. Yet despite these efforts, we never investigated much of the behind-the-scenes information. This tells us that we need to be more diligent in our reporting; we should have seen the sources and quotes (or lack thereof) in the article and questioned if we had a full perspective.
We want to apologize sincerely for this mistake and this engagement in the erasure of the work and voices of people of color.
Moving forward, the editing staff is already planning how we can engage in better practices of due diligence. As a publication with some authority within this institution, we should have been more aware of our positionality and less wanton with our articles. I hope this week’s publication can make up for our blunders even slightly— this comes only one block after examining The Catalyst’s past with racism, and we can see more clearly than ever how far we have to go to better ourselves as a publication.
So, once more, we want to apologize to the members of our community who were hurt by this article. If there is ever an incident within the paper that you, as a reader, view as damaging or cause for concern, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Comments from Trevon Newmann and Jaiel Mitchell
1. “The finale idea was generated by me, [then] fueled by Ellen, Jaiel, and myself with support generated by a statement written by Ellen, and then negotiated with the co-chairs of Dance Workshop.
2. I have been working on tackling issues with dance workshop for two years now, which led to the major changes seen in dance workshop today, yet I have still not been credited for: requesting there being a dance workshop mission statement/encyclopedia, requesting a co-chair application process, requesting for more positions in dance workshop beyond being co-chair, and calling for more awareness and transparency to how the DW space is facilitated and functions.
3. These problems have always existed in dance workshop, and no newspaper, club committee, students, or staff have confronted the organization and pressured it to make major changes until I did two years ago. Dance workshop was not adequately supervised by the institution, and the experiences of students of color and other students of marginalized identities had not been deliberated or adequately put in consideration.
4. Now that we are having these discussions and changes in dance workshop, I invite anyone to come and get informed through these dialogues, because the withholding and lack of information and miscommunication is what have strengthened and sustained these problems in dance workshop.”
“I also would like the finale to be… ya know… mentioned lol because the first article didn’t talk about it at all.”
“This conversation keeps beginning to be centered on white people once again. And specifically protecting the reputation of the white choreographers and not the damage done to people of color.”