Selected Film:

We Live This

Selected Film:

We Live This

Why We Chose This Film

Thoughts, ideas, and things to consider about this film...


We Live This is a moving and important glimpse into the lives of subway dancers, who seek fame, financial stability, as well as solace through their art form. It looks at their lives, their very real daily challenges, and their hopes.

This film showcases the loneliness inherent in the struggle to survive and in the almost unattainable dream of a better life. The loneliness depicted is partially kept at bay by practice, practice, practice—the foundation for any art form. We were inspired by their commitment and attitude–going out day after day to perform for the people of New York–and ultimately their resilience.  

Did this film make you see street/subway performers differently? Have you ever sensed that the odds were against you as you pursued your dreams? And if so, how did that feel?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

To go even deeper, you can try the creative exercises we’ve developed for you.

About the Filmmaker

James has concentrated his efforts on documentary filmmaking to develop an award-winning career and a reputation for bold, cinematic storytelling. He is personally invested in creating films that take on complex and systemic issues and is known for his ability to gain unique access to difficult spaces. For the past three years James has been a Director/Producer for VICE Media where he has directed and contributed to over 60 documentaries for web and TV. James has been selected for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Director Showcase at Cannes Lion in 2016, won the TriBeCa Film Festival Special Jury Mention Award in 2015, and was nominated for the D&AD Next Director Award in 2017. In 2017 James created the Solitary Confinement Project, a 24-hour livestream in which James voluntarily entered into solitary confinement for 30 days and broadcast his time inside. The project was nominated for a Webby Award in 2018.

Dive Even Deeper

Try the following to connect further with the film’s story…

Dance like it is for your survival…

  • Pick a song that you like to dance to or select a song from a dance playlist on one of the streaming services. Next, clear some space in your home for a dance floor and then press play. Put yourself in the shoes of the subway dancers in the film and dance to feel strength and power. Dance as a way to counter any feelings of shyness or smallness. Dance as “a way in,” to get closer to yourself and your body and feelings.
  • Afterwards, reflect on how it felt. Can you incorporate this kind of freeform, spontaneous dance into your daily routine? Can you invite others to join you?

Share This Film with Others


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Tell Us Your Thoughts and Join The Conversation


  1. Anonymous

    I could relate to this. I give them all the credit for doing something non violent that makes them feel better about them selves.

  2. Kathy

    I remember living like how am I going to eat, what am I going to do for my child no formula… this is painful but at the same time they are encouraging themselves to push through the pain for at the end there will be light… its eye opening.

  3. Joanne Lowe

    I chose to watch this film as it appealed to me immediately by using dance and music to survive. It’s very positive and shows the determination and a strong friendship on supporting each other. You will make it. This is your first step into a positive future. Well done.

    • murphy

      One of my favorites in the festival, too. I got to meet James Burns at the festival launch… really cool guy and a great storyteller.

  4. Anonymous

    i love this!

  5. Anonymous

    Making an honest living by preforming and doing what they love. They could be out there out dealing drugs and committing other crimes, but they are doing something positive.

  6. Richard T Sahara

    Wow. I wish there was more opportunity, or perhaps someone could show these youth opportunities. They seem to have plenty of motivation.

  7. Tina Servis

    I love their drive and desire to be more than who they are. They will make it you can tell by their tenacity!

  8. Anonymous

    great dance move. glad they have support

  9. Anonymous

    so powerful! the beauty of dance, authenticity, being oneself in a world that doesn’t love you—I love young black men making art!

  10. VLB

    Very powerful and meaningful! Very talented men! Love how dance made them all happy with many smiles. I admire ho these men see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope the best for them.

  11. Maria Brillant

    We have to have a way of allowing these kids to continue with their self expression. They have amazing talents!

  12. Elise

    This film has changed the way I look at subway dancers. Going forward, I will give them the respect they deserve by paying attention to their performance and by giving them a little something when they pass around the hat. I will allow them to bring joy and a smile to me rather than ignoring them. I will never ignore them again. Thanks for expanding my understanding.

  13. Anonymous

    Encouraging how positive these young men are as they use their talents to bring joy to a dark world and their challenging situations.


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