What are you studying at ITMO and where are you from?
I am a Bachelor’s student in the field of mechatronics and robotics at ITMO. My hometown is Cairo, the capital of Egypt. It is a country in the continent of Africa with a rich culture and history. Everybody knows about the great Egyptian civilization, the humongous pyramids, and the majestic pharaohs. My country is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. I think it is already apparent that I am very proud of my country.
Is this your first trip to Russia?
Yes, and as a matter of fact, this is the first time that I have traveled outside of Egypt! I was nervous but excited about this trip and I am very happy to finally be in Russia. Because of the pandemic, everyone at home was a little worried about my journey, but I am glad that everything went smoothly.
What has your experience in St. Petersburg been like so far?
It has been amazing so far. The city is absolutely beautiful. I am a big fan of the architecture here. It seems like every street and building has a story to tell. They have been witnesses to so many important events throughout history. ITMO University itself is so beautiful. It adds to the grandeur of the city. The people here are amazing as well. Even though I am a rookie in speaking Russian, I communicate very well. The people here seem to understand everything I want to say from my facial expressions.
Have you made any friends here?
I am not sure about friends yet, but I have definitely made a lot of acquaintances. Besides those at my program and dormitory, I have also met a lot of new people at the student dance club FLAME.
If you were to describe yourself in one word or phrase, what would it be?
I would describe myself as Bryan – the brilliant. The reason behind it is that I feel happiness in everything that I do. I always take every task very seriously. I keep reminding myself of all the good deeds that I have done throughout my life. I am a dancer and I put my heart into it every time I hit the dance floor. I rediscover myself through my dancing. That sort of dedication is something that I crave. I also see myself as a person who is righteous, honest, and virtuous and therefore I consider myself to be Bryan the brilliant!
What is your favorite dance type?
My favorite dance styles are krumping and hip-hop. I like krumping more. It is a type of street dance that has been popularized in the United States. However, nowadays it is popular all around the globe. This is a freestyle dance style that is very expressive. The dancer can express all their emotions like happiness, sorrow, or anger through the characteristic exaggerated and energetic moves. It is like telling a story through dance.
Who is your dancing idol?
The dancers whom I look up to are Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, popularly known as Les Twins. I watched a video of them when I was nine years old and since then I have been a huge fan. I follow them on social media and also learn from them. They usually do more hip-hop than krump.
Do you like performing on stage?
I am a performer and I love dancing in front of people. However, I have not performed a lot on stage. There have been only two such occasions in Egypt. One of them was called Royal Battle Egypt. As the name suggests, it is a battle between several participants. All of them compete for the winner’s title. The atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was so talented. It was a really intense but fun experience for me.
If you were given a chance to choreograph a dance at ITMO, which song and dance style would you pick?
That is a really interesting question. I would pick the song Beggin by Madcon. It is one of my top five all-time favorite songs. The original version, not the remix. The dance style would be either krump or hip-hop. But I think I would pick krump since it is my favorite.
What has your experience at the student dance club FLAME been like?
They had auditions a few days back. It was an awesome experience. Everyone is so talented. It was really amazing to get to know all of them. ITMO has some great dancers. The first practice session was held on October 7, 2021. We got to know each other and discussed our favorite dance styles. We formed our dancing troupe. The best thing is that everyone puts their heart and soul into dancing. It is something that I really appreciate. When you have such an amazing group of people working hard together, the outcome could only be success.
Tell us one thing about yourself that makes you proud and one thing that makes you feel embarrassed?
I am proud to be Bryan. I am proud of everything that I have done, that I am doing, and will do in the future. Each and every small action of my life makes me proud. We all have tough times in our lives, but I am proud of myself that I never gave up. I persevered and I am proud of what I have become today. Sometimes, when I forget about a task and it affects someone else, I am very ashamed of myself. As I mentioned earlier, I like to be perfect at all times. Therefore, I don’t like causing trouble in the lives of others. This is something that I need to improve and I am sure I will.
What do you think will be the most challenging thing to do in St. Petersburg?
The most challenging thing in my opinion is to be a part of Red Bull Dance Your Style. It is one of the biggest dance competitions in the world. A few weeks ago, the trials were held in Moscow. I hope to take part in them when they are also held in St. Petersburg. I want to be one of the top sixteen in this tournament.
What is your favorite means of transport in St. Petersburg?
I like the metro a lot. It is cheap, fast, and comfortable. The metro lines are also very well connected. The stations are not very far away from one another. You can easily walk down to a station in just five minutes. Except for Peterhof, every major location has a subway station nearby, which is awesome.
If you were given a chance to change or improve something at ITMO, what would it be and why?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong happening at the university. So there is nothing to change. Talking about improving something, well, I would really like it if more Russian students would interact with the international students. Every international student feels a bit homesick, especially in the early days. It would be a very nice gesture from the local students if they were more friendly and interactive with us. I had an experience where a person whom I knew did not even say Привет upon meeting me. That is the only thing that I can think of improving.
How would you rate the food at ITMO’s cafeteria?
From an Egyptian point of view, I prefer the food served at the Lomonosova cafeteria to the one served at Kronversky. I don’t know about others, but somehow I do not enjoy the food there. But that might be because I love spicy food. It is a bit difficult to find such food here, but the food served at Indian restaurants is very close to Egyptian meals.
What are your dreams and ambitions in life?
After I complete my studies, I want to visit Brooklyn and Detroit because that's where hip-hop originated. I want to open my own dancing studio besides my job. Finally, what I am here for is a good and happy life where I can do what I love doing the most – dancing and making people happy!
Interview by Subhrajit Barua