Nyle DiMarco didn’t hear any music at all during his Dancing with the Stars debut, but the deaf America’s Next Top Model winner was still one of the night’s top scorers. After Nyle and his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd, performed so well, Nyle’s speech teacher felt compelled to issue an apology to the competitor.
As Gossip Cop reports, Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd had a very promising start on Dancing with the Stars. The model and the one-time Mirrorball Trophy winner tied for first place with two other couples: Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris and Linsday Arnold, and Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy. All three couples waltzed away with scores of 23 out of 30.
During the show, Nyle DiMarco revealed that he can’t hear music at all, and its vibrations aren’t enough to help him stay in sync with the beat. Nyle’s former speech teacher worried that he would struggle on DWTS because of this, and suggested that he try wearing hearing aids during the competition. However, after realizing that Nyle DiMarco can do perfectly fine without hearing a thing, the instructor apologized in a message to Nyle’s parents, who are also deaf. Nyle shared the apology on Twitter.
“I just want to tell you that your son Nyle was amazing last night on Dancing with the Stars!!! I am in awe of him. I owe him an apology,” the message read. “I suggested he try hearing aids, I guess I will always be a speech teacher … Lol But he showed me I am so wrong, he did his dancing without any difficulty.”
“He has become a role model for every deaf person. He showed they CAN!!!! Congratulations, I have a good feeling that he can win the Mirror Ball. You must be bursting with [pride] and joy!!!”
Nyle DiMarco responded to the message on Twitter, and he let his teacher know that there are no hard feelings.
“Touching msg from my speech teacher when I was five,” he wrote. “No wrong or right. It’s important to teach ASL& English equally.”
You can watch Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd redefine dancing by performing the the Cha Cha to DNCE’s “Cake By the Ocean” below.
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd have explained that they use hidden cues to help Nyle keep time with the music that he can’t hear. Nyle said that he follows Peta by keeping his eyes glued to her, and his piercing blue peepers are likely sharper than most. During an interview with the Washington Post, Nyle revealed that his “deaf eyes” help him discern what others are asking him to do without having to hear them. He’s already accustomed to following the visual cues that photographers direct him with during photoshoots.
Peta Murgatroyd told Entertainment Weekly that she also guides Nyle DiMarco along using her hands.
“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.”
Peta Murgatroyd might not know American Sign Language, but she told Glamour that she does her best to communicate with Nyle DiMarco using her hands. She revealed that she tries to “be really big and obvious,” and she also uses lots of repetition to help Nyle get his timing right.
Unfortunately, Peta’s exaggerated hand movements can get a bit dangerous during practice. During his post-competition interview with Glamour, Nyle revealed that he had to get four stitches above his eyebrow after Peta hit him with her elbow. He said that he and his partner were having one of the best rehearsals they’d ever had when the incident took place, so perhaps Peta simply got a bit over enthusiastic during the final run-through of their routine.
“She said, ‘Oh, let’s do one more time to end.’ That’s when the elbow hit me in the eyebrow, and four stitches later … I’m OK. I was laughing the whole time,” Nyle said.
While Nyle DiMarco already has had to get a few stitches, at least he hasn’t had his chest hair ripped out yet—it was still intact when he ripped his shirt open for his first Dancing with the Stars routine. Bruno Tonioli got a closer look at it when he jumped out of his chair and inspected Nyle to make sure that he wasn’t just a “fantasy.”
Past DWTS contestants like Chris Soules and Alek Skarlatos were talked into getting their chests waxed, which is a painful procedure that DWTS pros like Val Chmerkovskiy undergo for every season of the show. However, it looks like Nyle might be fighting for his right to keep his follicles filled. The Switched at Birth star also told Glamour that he hasn’t been spray tanned yet—instead, he was rubbed down with some tanning lotion.
You can see if Nyle DiMarco gets the obligatory Dancing with the Stars makeover during next week’s episode of the show, which airs Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]