Nyle DiMarco is committed to breaking down barriers. The Dancing With the Stars contestant proved he can make magic with his partner Peta Murgatroyd in the ballroom — even though the model can’t hear the music. Peta and Nyle show that dance can have universal appeal, even when it is experienced differently. Host Carrie Ann Inaba wrote on her Access Hollywood blog that DiMarco might have a secret that explains the emotive power of his performances.
“[S]ign language is a kind of a dance — it is a movement that expresses. So in a way, he’s been dancing with his hands his whole life.”
But DiMarco took it a step further in rehearsal this week, joking with Peta that his dancing was so strong at that particular moment he could do the routine blindfolded. As Yahoo reported, DiMarco made a makeshift blindfold out of his shirt, pulling the fabric over his eyes. Peta said, “[w]e have no way of communicating with Nyle right now.” Nonetheless, they were successful in taking a few steps.
— Kelly Cutrone (@kellycutrone) March 22, 2016
Last week Nyle and Peta’s rumba earned a respectable score of 20/30. Celebrities Paige VanZant and Wanya Morris were tied at the top of the leader board with 24 points each. Geraldo Rivera was the first elimination of the season, but there are many couples still dancing week to week. Coming up on Monday night, the celebrities will review their most memorable year. It’s a popular and often emotional theme night each season on Dancing With the Stars, and Nyle and Peta will dive in with a tango — probably with no blindfold.
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) March 28, 2016
Nyle gained fame last year when he became the most recent, (and last, since the show was cancelled) winner of America’s Next Top Model. He was only the second man to win the program over its 22 seasons. Last December, DiMarco told E! Online that he did not fully experience camaraderie with the other contestants because he was born deaf and communication was hindered.
“It was definitely difficult just because of my language deprivation that was there for two months—I felt isolated. I tried my best. You just have to be resilient and have that resilience. When I won, all that weight was lifted.”
During his Dancing With the Stars run, DiMarco has had his family nearby to support him. He told People his twin brother, also deaf, has a DJ business and tried to teach Nyle to dance when they were younger. Nyle’s mother, herself another member of the deaf community, has been on-hand during DWTS rehearsals to provide encouragement.
Season 22 is Peta’s first Dancing With the Stars session since her engagement to Maksim Chmerkovskiy. When asked by Us Weekly on Tuesday whether Maksim has any jealous feelings about the time Nyle and Peta spend together, she at first joked that Maks “hates Nyle,” but then clarified that there’s nothing but mutual admiration between the two.
“No, no, Maks adores him. And we all have a lot of fun together. They look so similar it’s kind of funny! They could be brothers!
“[Maksim] just thinks [Nyle’s] doing such an incredible job.”
Maks and Peta dated for some months between 2012 and 2013. They broke up and reconciled last year. Maks proposed to Peta onstage in Miami and announced the engagement on Instagram.
Although Maksim Chmerkovskiy is sitting out this season of Dancing With the Stars, his brother Valentin is competing with meterologist Ginger Zee.
Dancing With the Stars airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]