Nyle DiMarco, Disability and Dancing With The Stars

ABC / Balthier Corfi

We all know that Nyle DiMarco is one handsome man, and, without a doubt, a beautiful and powerful dancer. Being honest, I think he was the absolute best choice as the winner of the Mirror Ball in Season 22 of DWTS with his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd. But, there is so much more to Nyle than his looks and sexy movements to music.

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To start, Nyle came to DTWS just after winning America’s Next Top Model. He was the first deaf contestant of the show, who eventually became the winner. Neil has a university degree in mathematics, a fraternal twin brother named Nico, and is an activist against societal believes of “disabilities”.


A mission to show the beauty of deaf culture, and not it’s disability.

He views deafness as an advantage in modelling because he is accustomed to conveying messages without speaking. He is adamant that no one should ever cast a film role of a deaf character, with anything but a deaf actor. After all, would one cast a white actor in a black role or a short actor in a role that call for a tall one. DiMarco is a spokesperson for LEAD-K (Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids). He is a signer and creative collaborator on The ASL’s (American Sign Language) App, which teaches conversational ASL. In 2016, DiMarco started The Nyle DiMarco Foundation. It is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing more access to resources for deaf children and their families. Just an hour before being revealed as DWTS’ winner, DiMarco tweeted that out of 70 million of deaf people worldwide, only 2 percent have access to education in sign language. One of the most powerful moments ever in DWTS was when Nyle and Peta danced to a completely silent section of a Paso Doble. They were rewarded with 29 out of 30 and raves from the judges. Nyle said afterward that he wanted to give the audience a little insight into his world.

First experience with dancing.

“I had never danced at all, so I almost didn’t accept,” he says of first being offered the chance to compete on the ABC reality dance competition. “I didn’t want to go out there and screw up the first week and have 18 million people go, ‘Deaf people can’t dance!’ But ultimately I decided it would be a good challenge.”

Peta and Nyle used non-verbal cues to start the dance, such as taps and facial expressions. Then body movement and internal timing to stay in sync and musical.

The perfect example of great timing and queues would be the troupe “Thousand Hand Guan Yin” that consists of 63 deaf dancers.

Dancing With The Stars – releasing the power of potential of anyone and everyone.

DiMarco is the second deaf contestant to compete on DWTS. Marlee Matlin was the first. The now 50 year old Marlee won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Children of a Lesser God in 1986, and is the only deaf performer to win the award. She is a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf and involved with a number of charitable organizations, including Easter Seals, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA Arts, and the Red Cross. When Matlin attended the 1987 Oscars to present the Academy Award for Best Actor. After signing her introduction in ASL, she spoke aloud the “names of the nominees” and the winner.


Influencing how we think of “disability”.

If Nyle and Marlee were not enough, remember Amy Purdy who was dancing with Derek Hough. At the time, Derek was not planning to come back to the show, but changed his mind when found out that he will be paired with Amy.

Amy Purdy is a world-class snowboarder, a 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist, co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, clothing designer and author. Due to the a circulatory disease, her both legs from knees down were amputated. Derek and Amy were the runner ups in Season 18. How about Noah Galloway – the former United States Army Marine?
Noah was injured on one of his tours to Iraq, losing his left arm, above the elbow, and left leg, above the knee. He was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars season 20, paired with Sharna Burgess and finished in third place.


In conclusion, we can all come up with a “disability” as an excuse of not working hard enough. Thankfully, we have Dancing With The Stars and beautiful contestants who are challenged by their life and society, to prove us wrong and inspire us to push further.

Author: Miss P [Celebrate DanceSport]
Photography: ABC / Balthier Corfi
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review