Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dance for the Pope

CPDRC Dancing Inmates or the CPDRC dancers is a collective of prison inmates in Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a maximum security prison in Cebu, in Cebu Province, Philippines where the prisoners perform dance routines as part of their daily exercise and rehabilitation, and many of their performances are filmed and released online, making them a popular feature among fans and veritable online celebrities.

Byron F. Garcia, the official security advisor to the Cebu government, is credited for starting a program of choreographed exercise routines for the inmates. He was appointed head of the prison by his sister Gwendolyn Garcia, governor of Cebu Province. The prison is best known for its rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

The prison management has also released a video explaining the concept behind the prison management at CPDRC. Byron Garcia had originally wanted to introduce a program at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) where inmates would exercise for an hour each day. He also claims in a British documentary that his inspiration came while watching the movie The Shawshank Redemption in particular the scene where the sounds of Mozart‘s Figaro flood the prison yard. Garcia initially introduced an exercise program where the prisoners marched in unison, starting out with marching to the beat of a drum, but moved on to dancing to pop music; he began with one of his favourite songs, Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall“. He chose camp music such as “In the Navy” and “Y.M.C.A.” by The Village People, so macho prisoners would not be offended at being asked to dance.

Garcia’s first upload of prisoner choreography was the Algorithm March, with 967 inmates, but only generated 400 views in its first eight months. The next upload, Thriller, however, enjoyed a massive response. The prison now even has its own official choreographer teachers, like Vince Rosales and Gwen Laydor. Some prisoners are chosen more prominently for more sophisticated routines while the general prison population (sometimes up to 1,500 inmates) participate with simpler more accessible routines.

Well, now they’re getting ready to perform for the pope, who will be visiting next the Philippines week. Video below.