Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mass Dancers Sentenced in Prison

In the past two days, I've posted a few articles about Youtube. Just in case you think I have it in for them (I don't but I think they really need to sort themselves out), I've decided to post a positive article about them today.

I came across a user by the name of byronfgarcia on Youtube. I'm not sure how he is connected to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre in Cebu, Philippines, but he features a whole series of these dancing prisoners on his channel.

It looks as if there is a fairly regular, open (?) event to view the mass dancers and it certainly seems to draw a crowd. And justifiably so. In fact, they are so entertaining, I think they should take it on the road!

From byronfgarcia's homepage on Youtube, he seems fairly defensive about the prisoners' right to dance and the prison's programme to use dance to rehabilitate them. 

It appears the programme may have received negative feedback and backlash from byronfgracia's rather combative words.He even hastens to assure that the programme is not meant as a punishment. How anyone can come to that conclusion baffles me. You need only to look at these men to see otherwise.

I think it is a good thing. The first video clip made me smile. You could see the wholesome joy, the complete abandon to something that takes them away from themselves and the environment ... where they can be more, and less than what they are.

There is a simple devotion and trust in their movements. If you have never organised a large group performance before, you would not understand how much is required for such organised synchrony.

Someone choreographed them. Someone thought they were good enough to train. Someone devoted time to them. Someone believed in them. Someone gave them hope. You can see how they repaid this someone or someones. 

Whatever a person's crime, he/she should be given a chance to recant and repent. To deny them salvation or hope is something only a higher being than man can give.

To the naysayers of the Cebu Privincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre, I say ... I am sorry. I am sorry you cannot see the joy and hope and can only see your own shadow in the path of men who seek these.

I encourage you to view these clips as they are fun (I especially liked the Canon in D Minor Rock rendition with Edgar Nacau - what a kickass guitarist!) and would probably uplift your spirit. I certainly had a smile on my face and tapped along with them.

But the one clip I strongly encourage you to view is the Gregorian Chant one. It features the simplest movements and orchestration but it is the one that almost moved me to tears.

If I ever go to the Philippines, I would like to visit this prison, if it is allowed. I would like to meet with the choreographer and trainer/dance therapist. I would also lke to do some pro bono work with them. Because I believe dance should and can elevate one above one's flaws and despair and shine light onto another way of existence.

I am glad I came across this channel. Especially during Lent. It was a good reminder. Thank you, byronfgarcia and the prisoners of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre.

Be well, my friends, and dance well.