Lebanese American University


Prof and student waltz to the top

Chemistry professor Robin Taleb and student Yara Nasrany win the second edition of Dancing with the Profs.


Yara Nasrany and Robin Taleb during their performance.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Robin Taleb put on his best dancing shoes to wow the panel of judges and the audience at Dancing with the Profs at LAU Byblos.

Last Wednesday, Taleb and his dance partner Yara Nasrany scored highest out of the seven dancing couples both with the judges and through the online Facebook voting poll before being announced the winners of the second annual competition.

Organized by the Department of Communication Arts, this campus version of the famous show brings together LAU students with dancing experience and faculty members with the energy and drive to train and compete.

After losing out to nutrition instructor Betty Dedeian last year, Taleb this time “mastered the dance,” according to judge Rabih Nahas, former dancing champion best known as a judge on Lebanon’s version of the prime time TV show Dancing with the Stars. Also on the judging panel were fitness expert Georges Assaf, Assistant Professor of music Amr Selim and Associate Chair of the departments of Humanities and Communication Arts Nadra Assaf.

“The job of performing arts is to take the audience to another place and you certainly did that,” said Selim of the winning dance routine. The purpose of the event, says its initiator Nadra Assaf, is to “help break down the barriers between teachers and students in a fun and jovial way.” Engineering student Patric Issa believes that aim was certainly achieved. “It definitely made me see instructors in a different light,” he said, referring to the light-hearted interaction between the students and faculty members throughout the competition.

Also dancing for the trophy were Amy Youssef, instructor at the Department of English, with student Antoine Awad; Hussein Hassan, assistant professor of food science and technology, with Angela el Zoghbi; Rony Khnayzer, assistant professor of chemistry, with Josiane Matar; Claudia Kozman, visiting assistant professor in multimedia journalism, with Romario Akiki; and Pierre Sarkis, instructor of history and cultural studies, with Ghinwa Ghorayeb.

Sarkis gave Taleb a run for his money, showing off his disco dancing skills in a humorous choreography. “It felt like I was watching Travolta,” said Georges Assaf of the routine.

Sarkis, always with a smile, was less than pleased that he had to perform the energetic dance routine twice, having been among the four couples to make it to the second round. “You give the 63-year-old teacher a disco routine while the others get to tiptoe around the stage,” joked the sexagenarian.

Other performances included a rumba, salsa, tango and the cha-cha. “It was out of this world,” said Georges Assaf of the cha-cha routine danced by Khnayzer and Matar. “You’re a chemistry professor and you had a lot of chemistry.” Equally explosive was the energy between Youssef and Awad. Of the tango routine performed by Kozman and Akiki, Nadra Assaf said: “I know you both well, but I saw past the people to the dance and the drama.”

The dancers and all the drama they went through to get to the final stage were in fact screened throughout the evening in short video skits shot during rehearsals, which highlighted the camaraderie between the students and the teachers they were instructing, and the painful journey to improvement.

Voted most improved since he participated in last year’s competition was Hassan. “You need more fire, but believe it or not, you can dance,” said Nahas following the salsa routine. However, the former dance champion’s favorite performance was the one by Taleb, to whom he offered a free dance lesson. 


The Department of Communication Arts is hosting the annual International Dance Day Festival in Lebanon at LAU Byblos from March 31 to April 8. More information will be available soon.


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