Whether it be Lost Voice Guy cracking up the audience on Britain’s Got Talent, or Rion Page serenading the crowd on the X-Factor stage— now more than ever, people with disabilities are getting the representation they deserve.
Most recently, Danelle Umstead was announced as the first blind competitor on Dancing with the Stars.
Danelle, who is blind and also suffers from MS, has never let her disabilities define her.
She’s represented the United States in the Paralympic Games and brought home three bronze medals. In her video package, she reveals:
“As an alpine skier, I’m able to charge down the mountain at up to 70 miles per hour— without being able to see.”
After mastering alpine skiing, Danelle’s now upped the stakes, telling Digital Spy:
“Now I have a new challenge, and that challenge is dancing.”
Danelle was paired with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev— and the two made a stunning debut.
As mentioned, Danelle has MS, an autoimmune disorder which affects the nervous system. She also lost her vision as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that breaks down cells in the eyes.
Dancing was difficult for Danelle at first— but it also presented challenges for Artem.
“When Danelle told me that she is blind, the first thing I thought: ‘How am I going to teach a blind person to dance?’ he recalled.
“This is hands down the biggest challenge I’ve ever had on the show.”
On the season premiere, Artem and Danelle danced to Andra Day’s ‘Rise Up’— the perfect metaphor for Danelle’s life thus far.
Clad in a willowing, pink dress, Danelle is a vision of beauty as Artem guides her down the stairs. You can tell he’s trying not to injure her, but once they hit the floor, they move in perfect unison and synchrony. Danelle later told Digital Spy:
“Because I can’t see, I touch Artem’s shoulder or his legs to feel the movement and myself a picture.”
Since airing, the pair’s breathtaking performance has been an inspiration to people everywhere.
Comments of praise flooded social media:
“Ok, I’m definitely impressed. Both Danelle for dancing that as well as she did, and for Artem for training her as well as he did.”
“Artem deserves massive props, as does Miss Danelle. That was so beautiful and inspiring.”
“Wow! Danelle thank you, the way you move without being able to see? You are so inspiring.”
Watch the inspiring performance below.
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