The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years

You know, when you extract song lyrics, they sometimes end up seeming almost…Shakespearean.
And speaking of tragedies, this travesty of choreography is just too much to bear.

Everyone’s a dance critic, I know, but I’m sorry: how many kinds of wrong can this be?

It’s well-known how obsessed I am with the Cebu Prisoners (aka the Dancing Inmates), and as far as I’m concerned, Byron Garcia is the Zhang Yimou of my imaginary Philippines Olympics Opening Ceremonies. But THIS wretchedness, wrought by an interloper, is just not making the cut with me.

Apparently, Michael Jackson was a fan of the dancing prisoners (as well he should have been). In the aftermath of his passing, and the posthumous release of the concert film “This Is It” in theaters and then DVD, Cebu prison program head Garcia was convinced to yield his reins to Michael Jackson’s primary choreographer Travis Payne, which in theory would be the logical conclusion and culmination of the Cebu Prisoners-Michael Jackson nexus. Perhaps symbolically it still is: incaracerated individuals with little to no personal agency dancing out pop imperialist promotional material….I really don’t know where this leaves notions of a prison-industrial complex. Maybe just prison complex.  Or complex prison choreography. Something.

There’s really just too much for me to write about the following, so here are my general first impressions:

  1. Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” in Halloween colors
  2. ultra-creepy military formations
  3. tight regimentation really ruins all the fun
  4. moves that might have been jazzy on a 98 lb weakling alone center stage do not have quite the same effect when employed by a handful of beefy american showboaters surrounded by hundreds of prisoners marching lock-step
  5. once again, filipinos become the backdrops for someone else’s fantasia
  6. lighting and video quality is better: I will concede only this
  7. the bizarro parading-about of a Martin Luther King placard in some sort of cross-promotion for civil liberties in prison could seem symbolically appropriate under certain circumstances, but here = wack and exploitative in the worst way
  8. sorry: orange pants only look good with orange shirts in this situation
  9. Unbelievably lame t-shirts promoting the the DVD release worse than prison uniforms
  10. white MJ rorschach blob on shirts looks like A, dead silverfish, B, texas longhorns logo, C, horsehead skull, D, all of the above
  11. disco moves could be put to far better use
  12. no zombies, nuns or trannies = lame
  13. “pubic triangle” formation of probably little relevance to either Jackson or the inmates
  14. a peace symbol formed by prisoners all shaking their fists in the air just seems plain wrong.
  15. What I really wanna know is: When’s the Wonder Girls DVD release going to happen?








“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this beeeee….”

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