Inmates star in Jackson’s ‘Drill’

1/26/10 - CEBU CITY – (UPDATE) How does one teach 1,500 inmates a new routine and a new dance with various formations in two days?
"With a lot of heart and through the rhythm of the music," said Travis Payne, Michael Jackson's choreographer.
For two days last week, he and two dancers from Jackson's final video “This Is It” were in the Cebu Provincial and Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) to film the inmates dancing to the Drill and the new song, “Nobody Cares About Us.”
A version of it was uploaded last night on YouTube. The dance is supposed to be premiered today, Jan. 26, on CNN worldwide with Payne to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper.
My friend Fritz Friedman e-mailed me to say that he was coming to town. He didn't tell me his guests were Payne, Michael Jackson's choreographer for the past 18 years, and two of the dancers from the film. They arrived on Saturday, the day before the Sinulog and stayed at the Waterfront Hotel.
“Georgia, I’m here with the choreographer of Michael Jackson. Would you be interested to watch him teach the inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center?" Fritz asked me on the phone.
Of course, I said, YES, YES, YES, and put on hold all other schedules for Monday and Tuesday. Over dinner, Travis told me that whenever Michael Jackson had time, he would access the Internet and watch the dances of the Cebu provincial inmates on YouTube.
He would literally run around the room smiling and giggling. It made him happy to watch the inmates dance to his music. Sony Entertainment undertook the project. (Friedman happens to be the senior vice president.) They flew in Travis and Dres. Abaracadabra Productions was given the exclusive assignment to film it. ABS-CBN was given the exclusive rights to report it in the Philippines.
Copies of the dance routine were sent ahead. Gwen Lador, the in-house choreographer of the CPDRC, worked on the routine with the inmates. Byron Garcia, the warden and inspiring force behind the prison supervised the preparations.
When Ross Misa, the director of Abracadabra productions, first approached Byron about this project, Byron didn't believe Ross.
Rehearsals started on a Monday. The inmates were polite, respectful, and very disciplined. They were cooperative and eager to learn the dance. This went on the whole day nonstop under the heat of the sun in the quadrangle of the compound. Coffee and snacks were served.
Travis broke them up into groups. A specific group was assigned to each area practicing the same routine. They would all come together later for the bigger formation. Fritz,Stacey,Travis, the other dancers, the production crew, Ernest Escaler and Dondon Monteverede, Ross Misa, the guards, Byron, his family – we all would mix freely with the inmates.
Karen Davila was given the assignment to interview them for ABS-CBN. They were strict. No one was allowed to video the rehearsals.
I felt we were in a studio lot of Sony Pictures in Culver City, California. It was hard to believe that we were in Kalunasan,Cebu City with the dancing stars and the dancing inmates. Towards the end of Monday afternoon, the inmates gave an impromptu presentation of “Ben”. This came as a complete surprise to Travis and brought him to tears. He used his shirt to dry his face.
The inmates performed all their songs, including, "We are the World" surprising everyone with the display of flags(where did they keep them?)This made Ernest Escaler cry and slowly the guests were misty eyed.
(Inquirer)

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