Ashley Bouder in George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's Coppélia. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

NYCB's Ashley Bouder Takes Home a Benois de la Danse Award

Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.


But it was also an exciting evening for American ballet, with dancers and productions from several U.S. companies receiving recognition. American Ballet Theatre's Harlequinade received two Benois nominations—Daniil Simkin for male dancer and Robert Perdziola for design—while Kansas City Ballet's world premiere of Septime Webre's The Wizard of Oz, co-produced by Colorado Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, received nods for both choreography and design. The Washington Ballet's Andile Ndlovu and San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan received nominations in the male and female dancer categories, while Justin Peck was recognized for his ballet Hurry Up, We're Dreaming at SFB. (For a full list of the nominees, click here.)

Even better, there was an American ballerina among the winners! New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder received the Benois de la Danse for her performance of Swanilda in Coppélia. She shared the female dancer prize with Stattsballet Berlin principal Elisa Carillo Cabrera, for her star turn in Nacho Duato's Romeo and Juliet. The male dancer award went to Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov for his portrayal of Prince Siegfried in Liam Scarlett's Swan Lake (the ballet's scenographer, John McFarlane, also won for design). Zurich Ballet artistic director Christian Spuck (for Winterreise) and Fredrik Benke Rydman (for Duet with an Industrial Robot) took home the Benois for choreography, while legendary dancemaker Jiří Kylián was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Finally, a special award, the Russian-Italian Benois-Massine, went to Hamburg Ballet principal Anna Laudere, a dancer we spotlighted last year for her performance in John Neumeier's Anna Karenina. The festivities continue tonight with another gala featuring Benois de la Danse laureates from previous years. Congratulations, everyone!

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Courtesy Schelfhaudt

These Retired Ballroom Dancers Started a Dance-Themed Coffee Company

Like many dancers, when Lauren Schelfhaudt and Jean Paul retired from professional ballroom dancing in 2016, they felt lost. "There was this huge void," says Schelfhaudt.

But after over 20 years of dancing, plus United States and World Championship titles, reality shows, and high-profile choreography gigs (and Paul's special claim to fame, as "the guy who makes Bradley Cooper look bad" in Silver Linings Playbook), teaching just didn't fill the void. "I got to the point where it wasn't giving me that creative outlet," says Paul.

When the pair (who are life and business partners but were never dance partners—they competed against one another) took a post-retirement trip to Costa Rica, they were ready to restart their lives. They found inspiration in an expected place: A visit to a coffee farm.

Though they had no experience in coffee roasting or business, they began building their own coffee company. In 2018, the duo officially launched Dancing Ox Coffee Roasters, where they create dance-inspired blends out of their headquarters in Belmont, North Carolina.

We talked to Schelfhaudt and Paul about how their dance background makes them better coffee roasters, and why coffee is an art form all its own:

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