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Cebu revives ‘Dancing Inmates’ 

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The famous "Dancing Inmates" of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) were relaunched by the provincial government of Cebu on Friday, according to a report by GMA News.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and other local officials attended the relaunch, which was one of the highlights of the Capitol's 453rd founding anniversary celebration.

"Panggaon sa probinsya sa Sugbo ang tanang Sugbuanon sa gawas man o sa sulod kay bisan ang naas sulod sa CPDRC, nagpabilin gihapon silang Sugbuanon sa diwa,” the governor said.


"Ang pagsulbong sa garbo sa pagka-Sugbuanon ... ipatigbabaw sa tibuok probinsya, sa tibuok nasod ug sa tibuok kalibutan," she added.

During the relaunch, Garcia thanked the inmates for their determination to continue the dance show, and despite heavy rain, the open-field performance went on uninterrupted.

"Pinaagi sa pasundayag ubos sa pagbundak sa kusog nga uwan, gipasidunggan sa mga inmate ang ang garbo ug ang diwa sa pagka-Sugbuanon," she said.

(Through the rain-challenged performance this morning, the inmates honored the spirit and pride of being a Cebuano.)

In 2007, the dancing inmates went viral after the governor's brother and then-prison consultant Byron Garcia posted their choreographed dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video on YouTube.

The public was allowed to watch the dancing detainees in CPDRC from then on. However, the public viewing was suspended except for special performances.

This time, the governor announced they had a deal for the detainees to be trained by award-winning Cebuano dancesport choreographer Ed Hayco.

Garcia is bringing back the CPDRC's "dancing inmates" to draw tourists and, ideally, generate revenue for the inmates.

World-famous performance

As part of their daily exercise and rehabilitation routine, the detainees performed choreographed dance and many of these were filmed and posted online.

The dancing inmates have been featured on Time Magazine's Most Popular Viral Videos in 2007,  Michael Jackson's "This is It" DVD, and even Netflix's Happy Jail, among others.

Likewise, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts sponsored their most recent performance, "Unity Dance," which was held in December 2020.

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