MANILA—Eight hundred inmates from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center impressed Michael Jackson’s choreographer Travis Payne, as they interpreted in dance the late King of Pop’s hit song “They Don’t Care About Us.”
Payne was spellbound by the inmates work ethic, practicing the steps for two straight days, resting only for meals.
“They are prisoners but they are also dancers,” said Payne who had also worked with Madonna and Lady Gaga in the past.
Sony Music, Michael’s record label, said the footage may end up as part of the “This Is It” concert on DVD which will soon be launched worldwide.
It wasn’t the first time that inmates of the CPDRC danced to an MJ song. Two years ago, they took on his signature song, “Thriller,” which became a viral hit on the Internet, garnering millions of visits on YouTube.
Payne said that Michael himself saw that performance. “He loved it. It took him a minute to register what it was [but when it did], he laughed and he got so excited, was so touched by it,” he said.
The choreographer added that oftentimes during breaks while they were rehearsing for Michael’s final concert, “This Is It,” Michael and the rest of the crew would repeatedly watch the Cebu dancing inmates’ video of “Thriller.”
Travis himself came to Cebu to oversee the rehearsals for “They Don’t Care About Us.” Two of Michael’s dancers, whom the singer personally picked for “This Is It” from hundreds of auditioners, even danced with the inmates.
“Michael was like a brother to us. When we thank him for giving us the opportunity to dance with him onstage, he’d say, ‘No, God bless you. Thank YOU for being here.’ That [the humility] was what’s beautiful about Michael,” said one of the dancers.
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