Michael Jackson’s Choreographer Teaches Dancing Filipino Prisoners ‘This Is It’ Routine
Michael Jackson was a fan of the more than 1,500 Filipino inmates who performed the choreography for his video “Thriller” in 2007 and created a viral hit.
Jackson watched the videos of Cebu Provincial Detention And Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) prisoners during breaks from his tour rehearsals for “This Is It,” his choreographer Travis Payne said.
Payne recently contacted Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and arranged to make a surprise visit to meet the performers in the high security prison, the Philippines’ Manila Bulletin reported.
Payne spent two hours on Sun., Jan. 17, and Mon., Jan. 18, teaching the dancers the routines from Jackson’s posthumous “This Is It” film.
“The Drill” is the last scene Payne and Jackson worked on together before the pop icon died in June. The clip was released over the weekend, days before the Tues., Jan. 26 release of the “This Is It” DVD.
The CPDRC performance videos of Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Dangerous,” and the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A,” among others, are all well done.
But Payne, who worked with Jackson for more than 10 years, was able to take their performance to new heights. Their rendition of Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us” is comparable to the scene in “This Is It.”
The “This Is It” version is a highlight of the film. It features a group of dancers who were digitally replicated to appear as an army. Payne’s work with the CPDRC men brought this virtual sequence to real life.
The inmates were not initially receptive to participating in the choreographed dances, said Bryon Garcia, a security consultant for the prison. He suggested the activity to keep the prisoners busy during their downtime, the Manila Bulletin reported.
According to the New York Times, Bryon decided to post videos of the prisoners dancing online to publicize some of the positive changes he implemented at Cebu since joining the staff in 2004.