Nyle DiMarco is redefining dance one week at a time on “Dancing With the Stars.” But according to the Season 22 participant, he was originally reluctant to become the first deaf male contestant to compete on ABC’s hit series. (Actress Marlee Matlin was the first deaf female contestant to compete on “DWTS” during the show’s sixth season.)
“I was honestly terrified,” Nyle confessed to International Business Times, revealing that he felt “a lot of pressure” to represent the deaf community in the ballroom. “If I screw it up, 18 million people would think, ‘Aw, it is because he is deaf. Deaf people can’t dance,’ when there are plenty of deaf talent I know out there that can dance. I couldn’t bear the idea of being that deaf guy who put his own community a step back.”
But Nyle, who won Cycle 22 of “America’s Next Top Model,” is doing anything but disappointing viewers. In addition to being this season’s fan favorite, the 26-year-old model is slaying the competition with his fierce dance moves — moves that earned him and his partner Peta Murgatroyd the first nine of the season.
“It was amazing. I can’t even explain [that] moment,” Nyle reminisced of his Week 3 score, adding that as wonderful as it was to have a score reflect his hard work, it made an even larger statement about his mission to redefine dance and the perception of the deaf. “It is about an opportunity to reframe the deaf community positively. An opportunity to inspire deaf youths' dreams, that they can conquer anything!”
One obstacle Nyle is eager to tackle is the show’s Week 5 partner switch. In the next installment, Nyle will be forced to hit the dance floor with a new partner who will be chosen for him by viewers. But the handsome contestant isn’t nervous about forming chemistry with a new pro — in fact, he’s looking forward to shaking it out with another ballroom beauty.
“Honestly for me, [the switch up] would not be a problem. I only question my switch up partner’s ability to be open and expand her teaching methods,” Nyle told IBT. “It won’t be easy, but I know I as a deaf person will make her a better teacher and make a impact on her world. The more people I make an impact on, the more of a strong ripple effect it will make on the world.”
Viewers can watch Nyle DiMarco take on the Week 5 challenge of “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC Monday, April 18, at 8 p.m. EDT.