Syrian professional ballroom dancer, Abdo Dalloul, is a mighty force to be reckoned with. Winner of the first season of Dancing With The Stars Middle East edition along with his partner Naya, he became an instant favorite by audiences and fans all around. This three-time Syrian National Champion has won international medals and awards long before his stint on DWTS, competing in the name of Syria twice in the Asian Games in China and Vietnam. Over cappuccino one sunny and pleasant day, we got acquainted with this talented and kind gentleman.
How did you get into the dancing domain?
I was around 17 years old when I began dancing. I didn’t dream of doing so as a young child or anything like that. I was into acting as a teenager, and then one day, a friend and I decided to enter a dance studio and take some lessons. I entered a competition and won. I knew I was good and on to something special. I took lessons in Waltz at first and after about 4 or 5 years, at 22 years of age, I began entering more serious international competitions.
At that point in time, did you know you had found your calling?
Yes, definitely. And by the time I was heavily into competing, I had already studied law and had become a lawyer; however I never ended up working in my field. I finally decided to teach dancing and discovered that people really liked my method. I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do in my life.
How did your family react to the change in your career path?
It took time; however when they finally had the chance to see me dance and recognized my talent and passion, they became very supportive. They were and are very proud of me. And then when I finally opened my own dance studio, they realized that this was a solid career move and definitely a stable job.
What is your favorite type of dance?
I like Samba and Latin the most; I love the music that accompanies these styles and the moves it involves. I was the champion in Syria in this category.
How would you compare the dance scene in Syria at that time compared to Lebanon?
The dance scene back home has always been much more substantial than here, contrary to what many may think.
How does dancing change your lifestyle?
It is an amazing domain that affects your lifestyle in many different ways. It gives you the chance to meet so many interesting people, and this in essence adds depth to your life. It also affects your daily schedule, with plenty of activity and work in the evening hours compared to working a day job. It’s the price you have to pay as a professional dancer.
Did you come to Lebanon with the goal of getting involved with Dancing With The Stars?
I began going back and forth between Syria and Lebanon around 6 years ago, offering dance workshops in both countries. I was approached by a young woman who wanted to be trained since she wanted to get involved with the program. I was approached by someone at that time by pure coincidence to also take part in it; it is something that had never crossed my mind. I have always been a fan of the show; I loved watching the American version back in the day. So I guess I was simply at the right place at the right time.
What were some of the best moments on the show?
The best moment for me personally was when I was chosen to be one of the professional dancers on the program from the very beginning.
Who was the most challenging star to work with?
Each star has some type of challenge. In the first season, Naya was very challenging, which I think had a lot to do with her young age. There was always some kind of drama involved. It is a difficult road for all of the stars during the process; it is emotionally and physically draining. So it is challenging for me to persist with encouraging them.
In the second season my partner was Aline. She is definitely the sweetest and most humble star ever.
Then there was Dalida who wanted everything to always be perfect; I had to work on this aspect to show her not everything has to be impeccable all the time.
It must be quite a strenuous process for you and the star involved…
Yes it is; and of course you build a relationship along the way because you are together for four hours practicing every single day. You get to see all the different sides of their personality.
How would you describe your personality?
I am not a nervous or high strung person; I like to work step by step with my partner and I offer plenty of patience. This aspect of my personality helps me a great deal with teaching in this field.
How has Dancing With The Stars boosted the dance industry?
Definitely in a very positive way! People from all walks are now considering taking up dancing because they see others brave enough to try. It has opened the eyes of people everywhere… both young and old.
It has been said that dancing makes you smarter. How so?
Yes, it is true. According to science, dancing helps to reduce your chances of Alzheimer’s disease and essentially boosts your memory. When you dance, you work out your body and your mind. There is so much involved from coordination to physical strength. It is simply amazing. The best feeling in the world for me is witnessing how dance affects my students on so many levels.
Do you believe that some people are simply born to dance… or would you say that just about anyone can learn?
I have to say both. Some people are natural born dancers; you can see it in how they move so instinctually. Many people need to train and learn extensively in order to pick it up, but it goes back to their will and determination. In my fourteen years of training, I have only come across 2 or 3 individuals over all that simply couldn’t get their act together.
in Asian Games in China & Vietnam in Asian Games in China & Vietnam in Asian Games in China & Vietnam
Where are you teaching dance these days?
In Badaro, Adma, and Sin el Fil.