Dancing Philippine jailbirds in new Jackson internet hit

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The Independent Culture

A group of dancing Philippine prisoners has created a new internet video hit with a spectacular routine led by Michael Jackson's choreographer dancing to the title track of his posthumous DVD.

The clip has generated more than 600,000 hits on the video sharing website YouTube since it was uploaded Friday by Sony Entertainment ahead of Tuesday's global release of the late superstar's "This is It" DVD.

The four-minute, 26-second film shows Jackson choreographer Travis Payne leading 1,200 inmates clad in regulation orange prison trousers and black shirts featuring the DVD's logo through a well-synchronised jailyard routine.

Sony said Payne and his crew spent two days this month at the maximum security jail in the central Philippine city of Cebu to record the dance as part of the promotion for the launch of Jackson's DVD.

The King of Pop died on June 25 last year in Los Angeles and an investigation into his death has focused on unlawful prescriptions of the powerful anesthetic propofol.

The Cebu inmates, including murders, rapists and drug traffickers, achieved instant cult fame around the world when a clip of them dancing to Jackson's "Thriller" hit was posted on YouTube in 2007.

The "Thriller" clip has since generated 37.5 million hits on YouTube, while other dance routines have also been posted and fuelled the prisoners' cult aura.

Officials at the jail began the dance exercises as a way to ease tensions among the inmates and improve their chances at rehabilitation.

They, and prisoners who have been previously interviewed, say the programme has been a huge success, with fighting among inmates down markedly since the dancing was introduced.