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Stars Behind Bars-Discipline Through Dance

I randomly stumbled upon the “Dancing Inmates” from Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, a maximum security prison in the Philippines, while browsing YouTube today. I feel behind the times, because it’s obvious these inmates are already very popular…but it’s news to me. Maybe I’ve been stuck in my ballet bubble too long.

At first I thought it was some sort of gimmick or maybe a dance crew dressed up like prisoners. Upon further research, I found that these dancers dressed in orange are in fact convicted murders and rapists. What? Dancing rapists?

The inmates even got some professional help when long-time choreographer for Michael Jackson, Travis Payne, traveled to the Philippines with a couple pro dancers to incorporate the inmates into This Is It. The tribute didn’t end up being in the movie, but it’s all over the web.

I find the Dancing Inmates interesting for multiple reasons. One, I find their unison jailhouse routines to pop songs highly entertaining. But secondly, I am truly inspired by what dance can do for human beings. The prison’s warden, Byron Garcia, has transformed the prison by implementing dance into the inmates’ daily routine. Some argue that the prisoners don’t deserve redemption and their punishment should not include having fun, not to mention becoming glorified after committing atrocious crimes. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I don’t know how I’d feel if I knew a victim of the prisoners. But it seems to me that dance is doing more good than harm. See for yourself…here’s a 20 minute documentary about the famous Dancing Inmates of CPDRC: Click here to watch YouTube video (embedding disabled)

Post by Drew Jacoby

Drew Jacoby, contemporary ballerina, has worked with Alonzo King, Complexions, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, Sylvie Guillem, Desmond Richardson, Lightfoot Leon, Mia Michaels, Dutch National Ballet, Lar Lubovitch, and Christopher Wheeldon. She is the founder of DancePulp. She joined Nederlands Dans Theater 1 in August 2012.

Comments (3)

  1. Meg October 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks for finding and sharing this. I’ve been seeing the Cebu dances for several years, but hadn’t seen the documentary.

  2. Drew Jacoby October 6, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Meg, you’re welcome. I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of them before the other day! Glad you liked the post.

  3. Maria November 16, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Wow. I come from the Philippines too. I didn’t know the dancing inmates were this popular. Nevertheless, their concept is just amazing. A perfect way to spend their time, to entertain. Thanks for posting this. :)

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