Depending on who you ask, a daily commute on the subway may be brightened or hindered by dance crews shouting “showtime,” but one filmmaker is giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the people behind the moves.
A new short film called “We Live This,” named after the crew showcased in the documentary, gives audiences a glimpse into the lives of several dancers who perform on the J train.
Some straphangers don’t enjoy the acrobatic routines, which include using subway poles to do flips and other tricks, but this film illustrates some of the reasons why these young men perform.
The 10-minute film directed by James Burns follows Forty, TyTy, Ted and Kahlil as they board the J train and as they struggle with issues like homelessness and incarcerated parents.
“As I dance on the train, I think about where am I sleeping at night,” Forty said. “Who should I call? Who’s going to pick up? What if they don’t answer?”
Another performer argued that being a part of the crew has allowed him to “break out of my silence.”
“I like the spotlight because before I used to be very shy,” he said.
The NYPD is increasingly cracking down on these performers, even posting flyers around subway stations to discourage them from dancing.
“Sooner or later the police will find a way to stop us,” one of the young men in the documentary said. “They have new posters now that they’re showing … so now they’re making it like it’s a bad thing when it’s really New York tradition that’s been going on for years.”
“We Live This” won a special jury mention at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015.
Watch it below: