Cebu’s famed dancing inmates are back with 1st public performance in 2 years

Cebu’s dancing inmates are back with a new dance performance 2 years after the jail was put on lockdown from COVID-19. Screenshot: CNN Philippines
Cebu’s dancing inmates are back with a new dance performance 2 years after the jail was put on lockdown from COVID-19. Screenshot: CNN Philippines

They once went viral for dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Now, the dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center are back with a new public performance, their first in over two years after the maximum security prison was put into lockdown due to Covid-19.

Some 150 inmates participated in the performance on Friday as officials relaunched the jail’s famed dancing program, opening their five-song medley with the theme song from Mission Impossible.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia was reportedly keen to relaunch the inmates’ dance program to promote provincial tourism further and revive the local economy that has been impacted by the pandemic.

While the government won’t be charging the public to watch the inmates’ performances, a donation box will be placed for people who want to give, with the proceeds going into the dancing inmates’ savings accounts with the Cooperative Bank of Cebu.

The Cebu prison became famous globally in 2006 after a video of the inmates’ performance of Thriller was uploaded to YouTube, where it had gotten over 59 million views to date. This Is Us choreographer Michael Payne choreographed a dance number for the inmates to Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us and taped it as part of the global launch of Jackson’s This Is It DVD by Sony Pictures.

The dancing inmates were also featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary Happy Jail by Michele Josue.

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