NTID dancers inspired by deaf DWTS competitor
Henrietta, N.Y. - (WHAM) How does he do it?
You may be wondering just that after watching Dancing with the Stars this season. Many are wondering how Nyle DiMarco can not only dance, but dance well - even though he cannot hear the music or anything else.
"Nyle is a role model to inspire deaf people to dance," said Vladimir Slavov, a second-year student at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Henrietta.
Slavov spoke to 13WHAM's Jane Flasch with the help of interpreter Rachel Abbett.
He is taking an elective dance course; it's his first shot at hip hop.
"I think that many people think that deaf people can't dance. But deaf people can do anything," Slavov said.
In his first shot on the dance floor, Nyle DiMarco's Rumba earned the night's highest score.
"I was like, 'Wow, I can actually do this,'" he said.
Nyle's secret weapon is a set of signals and cues with his partner that keep them in sync.
"Sometimes I tap his back to count in the beat," said his professional dance partner Peta Murgatroyd.
Another technique they use is a hand squeeze.
The NTID Dancers in Thomas Warfield's elective dance class are not professionals, but they are developing their own techniques for keeping time to the rhythm.
One is a visual count out of the beat.
"I will count out with my fingers in the air: 5-6-7-8," said Warfield.
Speakers blast the sound downward where a special floor helps magnify the vibration of the beat.
"There's a vibration that happens in music, so if you can't hear it you can sense it," said Warfield. "Many of the deaf students internalize the rhythm so well that it sort of becomes like a second nature."
"I can feel it in my chest and I can also feel it through the floor in my feet," said Slavov. "I can feel that the beats are going faster or if the music's slowing down so I can really connect to the music."
DiMarco is an actor who won America's Top Model. His entire family is deaf going back four generations.
He also has a special connection to NTID: His mother Donna attended the school. She's appeared on DWTS in support of her son.
DiMarco said being deaf actually helps him compete because he can tune out the audience noise and other distractions.
"He's awesome and just such a wonderful dancer," said NTID junior Greta Pellerin.
The students at NTID hope while the ballrooms spotlight shines on their world, it will leave others with an understanding of it that will carry on beyond this season's competition.
"I think they should take away that it's not about being able to hear," said Pellerin. "It's about being able to dance and move your body."
"I think it opens up not only opportunities for deaf people, but I think for all of us to have a different perspective on what's possible," said Warfield.
The class sent along a special shout out: "Good Luck Nyle," they said and signed in unison.
"Nyle is a role model. Deaf people can do anything," said Slavov.