Cinematographer and dance-maker Jennifer Akalina Petuch walked among Tallahassee’s tall pines with Misty Penton, the museum curator at Muscogee Nation of Florida Muscogee Farms.
As Penton sat down on a colorful blanket to share stories of ancient Florida and its shells and fossils, Petuch captured it from behind her camera’s lens. Petuch serves as director of photography and videographer for Theater with a Mission, a theater troupe that explores Florida’s Spanish roots and history.
This year Petuch has been tasked with her largest undertaking yet — editing and producing footage that will immerse digital audiences into the first ever Virtual Loco for Love Festival.
The festival began in 2018 to bring Florida’s history to life through drama, dancing, dueling and dining. This year, it will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florida becoming a US territory and provide stories from the state’s multicultural past through Native American, African, Spanish and US perspectives.
“Documenting an event is very different from a dance on camera piece,” explains Petuch whose uses her background in dance and filmmaking for the festival. “With a dance film, you’re filming something that was only ever supposed to be viewed from a 2D screen, compared to filming a live event where you’re hoping you’re getting the visceral experience captured precisely for the next viewer who is going to see it via the camera. It’s a huge responsibility.”
Typically, Petuch coordinates a documentation team that preserves the festival’s live performances and informational talks. For the virtual festival, she has pivoted to curating the festival’s Corral Digital, a digital playhouse of short videos that festivalgoers can browse. One video teaches viewers the steps to the historic “Yankee Doodle Dandee” dance.
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