In the midst of an urgent and alienating reform are New York City’s renowned subway car performers; arrests have trebled in a New York minute with panhandlers, the category including said dancers, currently holding 256 convictions since mid-March. As part of an ongoing series I spent two days befriending and documenting these performers, experiencing first-hand the perspective of both performer and audience - unexpectedly witnessing the remarkable cultural resonance these individuals have in the New York public sphere.
Effortlessly showcasing their strength and ability these dancers have perfected the techniques necessary for the subway environment, It seems finding these boys an annoyance however is just cause for the penalty of reckless endangerment. An implicit bias is apparent; as although authorities can seemingly quantify a large sum of complaints, they have no testimonies from those members of the public who have had their quality of life improved by these dynamic harbingers of ‘showtime!’. In a tale of two cities it seems performers are met with the paradox of being both avid contributors to the arts and culture and also criminals forcefully disrupting the comfort of subway passengers.
Upon my return from New York I managed to get in touch with one of the main subway car performers about the current situation. He expressed his anger and made clear he had a lot to say about the situation. He showed a lot of interest in working together on the next part of this ongoing series which is what made me start this kickstarter. With your help I hope to return to the city for a more substantial amount of time to document this subculture in greater depth and give the performers a voice on this topic. Although they are in a city where they get incredible exposure, it is those members of the city who see them on a daily basis who have been driven to complain. I felt it was my responsibility to document and show a larger audience the depth to the dancing, and how it is not simply a nuisance, but a lifestyle which has been passed from generation to generation. I aim to cover more aspects of the current situation by interviewing more people directly involved and other's involved more indirectly.
The funding will go towards publication production, equipment rental costs, specifically a higher end camera with better slow motion capabilities, and the videos screening and production. The more funding I get, the better the equipment I will be able to rent, and the further I will be able to push the film.
The camera and lens I hope to rent will cost roughly $1,000 a week. I dont plan on using this camera for the entire film so I will be able to rent it accordingly depending on the scenes and budget allocated.
$300 dollars will be allocated to publication production.
Any extra money will be spent on the videos production and screening, but it may be necessary to start a new kickstarter for this process depending on how successful the film is.
Risks and challenges
For the first film I relied completely on myself to approach these performers and gain their trust so I could film them. Now that I have passed this stage and shown them the possibilities it has allowed me to get in touch with more dancers, I recently spoke to one of the most talented subway dancers who is keen to work on the next film with his crew. These dancers work together in their performances, and by showing them my work and what I hope to achieve with regards to this new law, there are many who are keen on being involved. As much as this seems like it will go ahead if funded, I cannot predict injuries considering the nature of the dancing, but I do have the reassurance of the large amount of these dancers, and how keen they are to express their feelings.
The main reasoning behind this project is to illustrate what effect Section 1050.6(c) may have on this part of New Yorks culture. Because of the recent efforts to enforce this law on a more regular basis, I cannot predict what will happen while filming with regards to arrests. This said, having a camera present will not encourage the dancers to do anything out of the ordinary, as their performance's continue with or without documentation.