‘Dancing With The Stars’ 2016 Cast Includes Deaf Model Nyle DiMarco

The Dancing with the Stars cast for the upcoming 2016 season was announced this morning, and among the competitors is American actor and model Nyle DiMarco. While an actor and model may not be out of the ordinary for Dancing with the Stars, Nyle DiMarco has one quality that does make him an especially interesting contestant: Nyle is deaf. DWTS has had one other deaf competitor, Marlee Matlin, in Season 6.

How does someone who is deaf learn to dance to music they can’t hear and do so at a level that will make them stiff competition on Dancing with the Stars? DiMarco’s professional dancing partner and instructor, Peta Murgatroyd, explained her thoughts this morning on Good Morning America, as reported by ABC News.

“Honestly, it’s all visual. And it’s more a challenge for me this season, and it’s a great one. I love working with him. He’s such a great student and we’re hitting it off, we’re doing our moves great and it’s going to be an amazing season.”

Dancing with the Stars will be DiMarco’s first exposure to dancing.

E! Online quotes him as saying, “Growing up, I had no knowledge of dancing. I think that could be a good thing! She can mold me and make me into a good dancer.”

Anyone who’s just learning to dance and is starting from scratch could not ask for much more than a professional dancer of the caliber we see on Dancing with the Stars. The pressure is sure to be high as Nyle learns his dance moves in front of millions of DWTS viewers, but he says he appreciates the opportunity that his participation on Dancing with the Stars provides.

“I’m looking forward to changing the world’s perspective on deaf people—that we actually can dance too. You don’t have to be able to hear the music.”

Joining DiMarco on this season’s Dancing with the Stars will be Jodie Sweetin of Fuller House, Mischa Barton of The OC, Kim Fields of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, current NFL players Von Miller and Antonio Brown, UFC Fighter Paige VanZant, Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, Ginger Zee of Good Morning America, actress and ex-wife of Donald Trump Marla Maples, and Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris. They come from a variety of backgrounds, and they each bring a unique set of talents and obstacles to the Dancing with the Stars competition.

There are other changes to Dancing with the Stars besides the new celebrity competitors. Derek Hough, a six-time DWTS champion, will not return this season. Instead, he will take a break to play the lead role in the Broadway production of Dancing in the Rain. Derek’s sister Julianne Hough will also be absent as she vacates her judge’s seat in order for Dancing with the Stars veteran judge Len Goodman to return to his spot at the judge’s table. And Tom Bergeron will miss an episode or two at the beginning of the new Dancing with the Stars season as he sees to matters related to the recent passing of his mother, just four months after the death of his father.

Dancing with the Stars is always great fun to watch. We are often surprised by the talent and growth of the celebrity competitors and this season is sure to include opportunities to see them blossom as well. Nyle DiMarco will be especially interesting to watch as he learns some fancy footwork without the benefit of hearing the music to which he dances. Dancing with the Stars Season 22 will debut on March 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

[Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]