Paul Taylor in 2014. Photo by Jayme Thornton

Modern Dance Legend Paul Taylor Has Died

Yesterday, modern dance giant Paul Taylor passed away. He had turned 88 at the end of July.

Considered the last of the 20th-century modern dance titans, Taylor celebrated the 60th anniversary of his company in 2014. A prolific dancemaker, he continued to make new works into his final year, the last of which premiered during the company's annual Lincoln Center season in March—his 147th. Aureole, Cloven Kingdom and Promethean Fire are among his iconic works, though perhaps none is so beloved as his 1975 masterpiece Esplanade. During his performing career, Taylor danced roles created for him by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine, as well as in his own work.


Paul Taylor choreographing To Make Crops Grow on Parisa Khobdeh. Photo by Whitney Browne, Courtesy PTDC

The news comes just months after the surprise announcement, mid-May, that Taylor had named Michael Novak artistic director designate. Novak, a 35-year-old member of Paul Taylor Dance Company, was expected to continue performing while preparing to take the reins of the multi-faceted Taylor enterprise, from the school to the company itself. It seems that Novak will be stepping into the role sooner than may have been expected.

Prior to naming Novak his successor, Taylor had begun to prepare his company for the future with the launch of the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Initiative in 2014. The PTAMD season includes not just Taylor's works, but also repertory pieces from other iconic modern choreographers (such as Graham, Cunningham and Trisha Brown) and new creations from contemporary choreographers (Doug Varone and Bryan Arias in the most recent iteration).

Taylor's distinctive choreographic voice has been a major force shaping American dance for decades. His legacy will endure, but Mr. Taylor will be missed.

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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:

GO DEEPER