'CODA' Actor Daniel Durant Gave a Glimpse at What It's Like to Dance While Deaf On DWTS

He and his partner, Britt Stewart, danced without music during part of their recent performance.

Daniel Durant
Getty Images.

Actor Daniel Durant, who is deaf and starred in the movie CODA, is officially a semifinalist on season 31 of Dancing With the Stars. His success on the show may leave audiences wondering what it's like to perform on a dance competition show without the ability to hear music.

On the November 7 episode of the show, Durant and his partner, Britt Stewart, provided a glimpse of what it's like to dance as a deaf person: They chose to have the music cut out in the middle of their jazz routine.

After the music abruptly stopped playing, the partners continued dancing to silence for a section of the number. The routine provided an incredible look at the artistry, partnership, and trust required in order to dance when you're unable to hear the music.

To say the choice was powerful would be an understatement. The routine, which earned a near-perfect score of 39 out of 40, brought both live audience members and judges to tears. "That was so insanely powerful because it made me realize how much I depend on the music," said judge Derek Hough, who was visibly emotional as he delivered his commentary.

Durant seemed to understand the importance of being able to share his experiences on the show. "I'm so happy," said the actor with an American Sign Language interpreter after his performance. "I felt free. I'm here and I got to show to the world I'm successful and you can be successful no matter what."

The dance meant a lot to Stewart as well. "It was a very profound moment for me," she said. "To be able to experience as his partner what he goes through and how he experiences life was just so profound for me, and it's made our connection even stronger this week."

She also reflected on the powerful number in an Instagram post featuring a clip of their performance. "It's always hard for me to find the words after something really touches me," wrote Stewart. "Last night felt profound and bigger than Daniel and I," she continued. "Daniel, thank you for letting us into your world last night. You are changing my life."

Durant is not the first deaf Dancing With the Stars contestant. His CODA costar, Marlee Matlin competed on the show's sixth season, and model Nyle DiMarco won the show's 22nd season.

Overall, Durant's recent dance number is a step further in spotlighting what people with all abilities are capable of doing. (Next up: What Seeing Selma Blair On 'Dancing with the Stars' Means to a Neurodivergent Person)

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