I always ask myself: If my parents hadn't been flamenco dancers, would I have danced? I certainly don't have a calling for dancing. As a child I was no Billy Elliot—that kind of boy that would do anything to dance. In fact, I was the Anti-Billy Elliot. My parents were always forcing me to dance, and I pushed back as much as I could. I thought dancing was boring.


So why, as an adult, do I continue to dance? I know it sounds odd, but I think I dance because I don't like to dance. It's not logical, but there is something freeing in accepting that. I literally cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't dance. I've danced since I've had consciousness. It's simply in my DNA. And you can't escape what you are.

I was always going to be a dancer, but my saving grace as an adult is that I don't feel any pressure. I feel total freedom when it comes to how I choose to dance. As long as people continue asking me to perform, I will, but it has to be on my terms.

When I perform in public, it's not so much the dance that I respect as much as the venue and stage and the people who come to watch me. I find that connection very special, even more so as time passes.

I love reading and film, but I am not a writer or a filmmaker. Dance is the tool I was given, so it's the tool I use to create art. I consider myself an artist more than a dancer, because the work that I create is inspired by more than just movement. Dance is just a means of transmission, that little bit of magic that was handed down to me and that I now use to create a world of my own within a profession that I never chose for myself.

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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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