To the Editor,
Thank you for writing an article about Pitt Dhirana. It was exciting to wake up Monday morning and see the event we’ve worked for all year on the front page. That being said, as members of the Dhirana 2018 board, we find it necessary to respond to the article titled, “Dhirana dancers employ visual storytelling in competition” and address certain misrepresentations of our organization and Indian classical dance as a whole.
We believe that we were not properly presented to The Pitt News’ readers. Pitt Dhirana is an organization whose mission statement reads: “To promote awareness of Indian classical dance, provide a platform for collegiate dancers to continue pursuing the art, and better the Pittsburgh community through philanthropy and service.” Despite this focus on Indian classical dance, a picture of a Bhangra team, an exhibition act at the competition, was on the first page. A comparable analogy would be coverage of a major football game with a photo of the cheerleaders on the front page rather than the football players. While we showcase these other important styles of dance, our primary focus is to promote awareness of Indian classical dance.
Our organization also found the introduction to be ill-suited and misrepresentative of the show. The article talks more about the emcees and their backgrounds than the actual impact of the competition. The first four paragraphs elaborate on the emcees’ jokes and their fake charity. As a reminder, the second half of our mission statement includes that we “better the Pittsburgh community through philanthropy and service,” an aspect that was barely mentioned within the 1,000-word article. Our beneficiary, the Birmingham Free Clinic, should be one of the main topics where Dhirana is concerned. It is unfortunate that only a half paragraph was devoted to this central part of our organization.
We do not expect The Pitt News or its writers to be completely knowledgeable about Indian classical dance, but we do expect them to write accurately and respectfully about this and any other unfamiliar territory it chooses to cover. We feel that the author of this article did not utilize the extensive background information about Dhirana and Indian classical dance that she obtained during a one-hour interview the week prior to the show. Furthermore, several of the misconceptions made in this article could have been addressed prior to publication by thoroughly reviewing it with someone at Dhirana, and we hope the paper takes the time to do that in the future.
We hope this letter will make a positive impact in the future for any cultural organizations that are covered by The Pitt News.
Dhirana 2018 Board