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The Dance Expression of a Filipino Prison: Lines of Prisoners Dancing Becomes A Hit On YouTube.com

A popular collection of video clips that receive a huge ammount of hits on YouTube.com is the footage of over a 1,000 prisoners dancing as a collaborative venture in the exercise yard of a prison in the Philippines.

How To View The Material

Load this url into vixy.net to see a popular remake of the old Michael Jackson dance clip Thriller. It is one example of the many dance routines that the prison authorities have filed on Youtube.com. To get a feel for the entire range of the dance routines, search Youtube.com They will come up as a collection. Download the videos to your computer through Vixy.net. This will ensure that the heaviness of the files does not spoil your viewing experience.

Give The Idea A Go!

Read what the CEO of the prison has to say about the experiment. Look carefully at the benefits of the programme. Feel the energy of the prisoners. Think about the level of cooperation that would be required for these prisoners to work together well enough to create such a polished production. Prisoners would need to possess a developed and sophisticated level of cooperation on a daily basis, to be able to perform these dances with such polish.

The Story of the CEO

The prison overseer’s name is Byron Garcia. He has a hard-line pedigree in law and order. His father was the Congressman Pablo Garcia, who introduced the death penalty to the Philippines in the 1980s. He says that he was accused of cruelty when he introduced the programme by first marching the prisoners and then moving the formations through to dance.

“I ignored everything in the handbooks to do this,” he said. Sept 5, 2007 Cnn.com Asia

The Benefits

In this YouTube Documentary researched by Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas, who gets behind the scenes to inform you about the benefits of the dance programme.

These are the benefits Garcia describes when talking to Ortigas about the gamble he took when he created the programme

  • it keeps the prisoners fit and well
  • gives them something to do
  • has a therapeutic effect (tends to their emotional wellbeing)
  • is a way to deal with the issue of cramped space
  • allows prisoners to reinvent themselves in relation to their world and their families
  • helps the family of the prisoners deal with their emotional issues about family pride
  • makes it easier for the prison staff to instill discipline
  • encourages the inmates to have fun
  • builds a renewed sense of hope – lifting the spirits of the prisoners and thus alleviating depression

An Example of the Benefits

36-year-old Crisanto Niere, has been waiting five years for trial. He loves the dancing. He says the Youtube.com video has brought him a reward he once thought would be forever beyond his reach. His son, Christopher, who has only known him as a prison inmate is now proud of him. He adds, “It makes me proud that my son is proud of me.” he said. Sept 5, 2007 Cnn.com Asia

International Relevance

The biggest benefit of this style of ministering to the prison population is that there has not been a violent incident in nearly a year and a half. “They are just not hostile anymore,” Garcia says. He claims that his prison is a model for prison authorities all over the world, because the experiment has shown that there is a way to “crack the plague of violent prison gangs.” Sept 5, 2007 Cnn.com Asia

He says that the men have found that they can dance and still be men. He claims it is good because the process makes them work together. They are healthier because of the exercise and they experience improved self-esteem.

Will Other Prison Authorities Try This Style of Management?

He asks how people in other countries can know whether the process would work for them without trying it. Perhaps Corrective Services authorities in western countries may need some convincing before adopting a scheme so radical in concept and impact. Maybe researchers need to investigate why there was such a drop in violence and what kind of synergetic and ecological factors combined to bring this amazing result about.

Whether this management practice through dance becomes more widely accepted or not – the video clips certainly seem to be popular. This popularity indicates that there is a widespread appreciation for this form of aerobic dance expression worldwide.