Dancing with the Stars veteran Peta Murgatroyd is learning to look at dance in a whole new light this season. In a way, Peta has also become the student as she teaches model Nyle DiMarco, who is 100 percent deaf, to become a dancer.
After stunning the judges and fans with their Cha Cha on the Dancing with the Stars premiere Monday night, Peta Murgatroyd and Nyle DiMarco discussed their chemistry with E! Online. DiMarco said part of their strong chemistry comes from the fact that the dance partners are learning from each other. Peta immersing herself in learning to communicate with Nyle, including learning sign language, helps create a bond that shines through on the dance floor.
Peta Murgatroyd uses cues that the audience can’t see to help guide Nyle DiMarco through their routines. Murgatroyd told Entertainment Weekly that they actually have an advantage with Nyle being deaf because it forces them to focus on eye contact and other forms of subtle, non-verbal communication.
“The cues are pretty hidden so no one can see. There were a few turning of waists, a little bit of tapping going on, and eye contact. That’s a great thing to really focus on … that’s a huge part of dancing and communication. I feel like we are winning in that area because of Nyle being deaf.”
Peta Murgatroyd went on to explain that it helps that Nyle isn’t distracted by the roaring crowd noise, which throws many contestants off during week one. Peta said even she fell victim to it Monday night, causing her to miss their cue.
“That’s the number one thing that happens [for celebrities] during week one. They get freaked out by the clapping. Actually today, I didn’t hear the start of the dance. We were late walking in! We had a camera angle to hit.”
Nyle DiMarco joked, “So I guess we were both deaf at the beginning.”
Despite Nyle being sent to the hospital for stitches after Peta Murgatroyd elbowed him in the eyebrow just days before, the pair landed at the top of the leaderboard. Peta and Nyle’s steamy performance wowed the judges, especially Bruno Tonioli, who asked DiMarco if he was “for real.”
Nyle DiMarco takes his role on Dancing with the Stars very seriously. Having no dance background, Nyle didn’t know how he would do on the show until he got into rehearsals with Peta Murgatroyd. He admitted to Us Weekly that he did not want to “make a fool” of himself “as a deaf person.”
Nyle was afraid if he didn’t perform well, the world would have a “negative perception that a deaf person can’t dance,” DiMarco explained. “[I]t’s important for me to do so well so that I can preach to the world that deaf people can do anything.”
Peta Murgatroyd revealed she was initially “really nervous” when she found out Nyle was completely deaf. However, Murgatroyd gushed that she is “loving it,” and she and DiMarco are “having so much fun.”
Based on their debut performance, neither has anything to worry about.
Native New Yorker Nyle DiMarco gained fame as winner of Next Top Model Season 22. The 26-year-old model and actor “is passionate about literacy, anti-bullying campaigns and advocacy within the deaf community,” according to his DWTS bio.
Twenty-nine-year-old Peta Murgatroyd has been dancing since age 4. She joined the Dancing with the Stars cast during Season 13. Murgatroyd is engaged to fellow dancer and former DWTS cast member Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Watch Peta Murgatroyd and partner Nyle DiMarco Monday night on Dancing with the Stars at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on ABC.
[Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]