Inmates Perform Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us’

In 2009, ‘This Is It’ was the first song to be released after Jackson’s death. It accompanies the documentary that was released under the same title. The documentary details footage of rehearsals for his upcoming concerts at the London O2’s arena, prior to his death. Like all of his other music, this release had a significant impact on the world. He continued to challenge boundaries and drive his creativity throughout the production of his music.

For some, his music meant more than he will ever know. In particular, it had a massive impact on inmates at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre (CPDRC) Maximum Security Penitentiary in the Philippines.

Rehabilitation in prisons is about ensuring that they can integrate back into society without reoffending. It increases their likelihood of bettering themselves and rebuilding their lives. One particular way CPDRC Maximum Security Penitentiary aimed to do this was through movement.

Michael Jackson is renowned as the ‘King of Pop’. His career spanned four different decades and made an imprint in multiple industries including dance, music, and fashion. Jackson’s choreographer, Travis Payne, along with dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid were invited into the prison to interact with the inmates and teach them the choreography from Jackson’s ‘This Is It.’ They all wearing Jackson’s This Is It’ t-shirts with orange trousers.

The inmates are dancing and singing to Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us.’ The front section begins in a triangular formation and the rest are lined in rows behind them. The camera pans overhead, onlooking hundreds of inmates. The triangular section parts and the lines march in alternate directions and create a powerful impact.

Towards the end of the choreography, the inmates form a peace sign. They continue to march in this formation and pump their fists into the air. They slightly release from the formation and to conclude the piece, the outer circle drops to the ground and the final beat is heard.

The inmates collaborate together to form this piece and the overall effect is powerful and emotional. While the choreography has a regimented feel, the inmates are allowed to express themselves through music and dance, something that is often limited to them.

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