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Cinema at Home: Jacksonville Dance Film Festival

Cinema at Home: Jacksonville Dance Film Festival

April 14, 2020 // by MOCA Staff

This week we connected with Tiffany Santeiro, Creative Director at Jacksonville Dance Theater (JDT), to give our readers a taste of the Jacksonville Dance Film Festival (JDFF). JDFF is the first festival of its kind on the First Coast and aims to “expose our community to the dynamic collaboration between dance and camera, and to how this innovative cross-media art form challenges and expands the way we see both dance and film.” The fifth annual festival was scheduled to be held at MOCA this spring, but unfortunately has been cancelled...but have no fear the festival is happening virtually. Through April 30, you can watch JDDFF from home. Click here for a full schedule.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your role at Jacksonville Dance Theater?

My name is Tiffany Santeiro, and I am a Jacksonville native. I moved back to the First Coast in 2012 after having my professional dance career take me to NYC, The Netherlands, and Israel. I began working in film more than a decade ago and fell in love with the way it forced me to really understand what I wanted my audience to see. This has informed my process as a choreographer in all aspects of my career. I am also a founding member and the Creative Director of JDT, an adjunct professor of Dance at Jacksonville University, and the mother of a lively and creative 4-year-old.

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Image of Tiffany Santeiro. Photo by Natalie McCray.
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A still from Body, choreographed by Rebecca R. Levy. Dancers in the photograph: Tiffany Santeiro, Hilary Libman and Katie McCaughan. Photography by Katherine Richardson.

For those who don't know, what is Dance-Film?

Dance-Film is a genre born out of the field of choreography and cinematography. It assimilates aspects of choreography, dance, sound, space, environment, and the development of new technology in filmmaking and editing to create a genre of film all its own. Dance-Film can be any film where movement drives the “plot,” or idea of the film, or where the film's point is to evoke an experience of movement for the viewer. Film as an art form, very often, reveals our humanity to us. Dance-Film is no different. It is a very human art form, showing us the power of the human body.

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A still from Maids (Brazil) Student Dance from the Film category.

What is the relationship between dance and film? Is there any significance?

Yes to both of those questions! Dance was paramount in the development of the technology and art form of film and filmmaking at the turn of the 20th century. Some of the very first films created were of dancers. For example, in 1894, Thomas Edison filmed dancer Ruth St. Dennis performing “The Skirt Dance.” And in 1904, Louis Lumier filmed Loie Fuller performing her famous "Fire Dance." These pioneers of film were looking to capture movement and what better way to do that but with dance.

How are you personally involved in the Jacksonville Dance Theater Film Festival?

I am the director and curator.

Are there any films you're particularly excited to share with the First Coast?

All of them really. We have films from over 15 different countries in genres from animation to horror. There is really something for everyone! 

In the student shorts category, JDFF is excited to welcome back an alumnus of the festival, as well as a former Jacksonville Dance Theatre member, Alexis Valez. Her film “Unfurling” combines her expertise as a choreographer, performer, composer, and filmmaker in this beautifully haunting exploration of sound and movement. She is currently a Master's Degree candidate at Washington University in St. Louis.

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A still from Making Men from Zimbabwe / Belgium in the Narrative category.

In our Narrative category, we have a lighthearted film from the acclaimed multi-media Dance Company LED out of Boise, Idaho, called “Gorilla.” Also we have “The Man Who Traveled Nowhere in Time,” a haunting film created by the Canadian choreographer, Kyra Jean Green, in the style of a horror film. “Making Men” examines the questions of masculinity in this beautiful film which follows the journey of four men coming of age. This film was shot in the breathtaking landscape of Zimbabwe.

The Shorts program of the festival is so diverse this year! Seven different countries are represented. “Alta,” a film from Finland, explores the similarities of architecture and dance. “Etch,” out of the UK, is a beautiful example of how the environment in which the film is created can inform its context.

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A still from Alta from Finland, a film in the Film Shorts category.

JDT has made the decision to move the festival to the virtual space. How can our community participate from home?

We have tried to make it as easy as possible. Go to The tickets are on a sliding scale of $10 - $0 so that everyone can participate. With the ticket purchase, each patron will receive a confirmation email with links to each category. These links can be viewed any time before April 30th. We ask that each person viewing the festival “purchase” a ticket! If anyone has questions about the festival or problems with their purchase, they can contact me at

Other than the cancelation of events like JDFF, how has this current public health crisis affected you and your company as artists?

JDT's priority right now is to be a responsible actor in our community by committing to social distancing in an effort to help flatten the curve. All rehearsals and shows for the rest of our season have been cancelled, as has our educational outreach programming. Due to the economic uncertainty of this time, JDT will pay each company member $100 in relief pay for the months of March and April. In a society that often focuses on 'me' instead of 'we,' JDT is committed to our community and to leading with a human-centered value that expresses: 'we're all in this together'; that we must continue to believe a better world is still possible, and in the words of Brené Brown “…believe in a world where we can make and share art and words that will help us find our way back to one another.”

For more information about JDT, visit their site at




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