Jana Cruder Captures the Beauty of Movement with Ballet Dancers and Hippie Powder


All photographs by Jana Cruder. Used with permission.

There’s something about the beauty of motion that can only be captured in photos. In this amazing photo series, New York and Los Angeles-based photographer Jana Cruder captured the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Company in mid-movement surrounded by explosions of colored cornstarch.

Originally the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Company commissioned Cruder to take portraits of the dancers. However, after seeing the group’s ballet performance she was moved to capture the dancers’ emotions and art of motion. “It was so beautiful,” Jana recalled. “It was like dancers amongst beautiful colored light.”

“I really loved how they used colored light to sync up with the movement of the dancers’ bodies and so as a [photographer] I started to think about how I could evoke the feeling I had felt watching them falling softly,” Jana expounded.


Jana went on a mission to evoke the same beauty and emotion in her photos and began scouring the internet looking for a solution. Jana said she experimented with gelled strobes at first but was unsatisfied with how they couldn’t produce the same ethereal quality or fantasy vibe she wanted.

In her travels on the web Jana discovered hippie powder, a combination of cornstarch and food dyes most famously used in the color run. After throwing a few handfuls of the colored dust in front of a black backdrop at her studio Jana knew she found exactly what she needed to portray the way the dancers could float in the air.

Jana said that some of the powder was added in post-production but the majority of it was shot on the scene. Many of the dancers tossed the powder as they moved. In other photos extra ballet company members stood on the sidelines flinging the powder into the frame just Jana as took the shot. For the group photos Jana explained she collaborated with art director Matthew Minidis who suggested recreating the imagery of Rorschach inkblots.


With all the ideas together Jana created a beautiful, imaginative series of photos and a mess hippe powder that took a week to clean off her gear, which included a Canon 5D Mark IIIand two Profoto Pro-7B kits. “It’s a mess but it was so freaking fun,” Jana quipped, “This is very different than any work I’ve done before.” The rest of Jana photography portfolio consists of fashion shoots, celebrity portraits, and some experimental works dabbling in levitation photography.

In the future Jana says she wants to work with powder again suggesting a project with football players or a printer advertisement. Jana also wants to experiment with how the powder could be used in a real world scenario or photos of everyday life. “You watch there will be a trend now,” Jana joked.

To see more of Jana’s work, follow her on Twitter or check her out on Instagram and her website.







Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Brooklyn.