'Dancing with the Stars': Danelle Umstead makes history with poignant performance as first blind contestant on the show

Danelle is a paralympian skier who performed to Andra Day's 'Rise Up' alongside her choreographer on the show, Artem Chigvintsev, for the season premiere.


                            'Dancing with the Stars': Danelle Umstead makes history with poignant performance as first blind contestant on the show

This year's 'Dancing with the Stars' season premiere kicked off with some heavy shoes to fill. In that, we mean the contestants were able to establish such firm grounding of their skills that viewers are sure to be in a fix about the one they want to be rooting for when it comes to the season finale. And while retired NFL star DeMarcus Ware, and RnB sensation Tinashe were able to come out at the top ranks, tying at the first spot with their scores, there was another performance that took the show's standards through the roof - elevating it to revolutionary levels.

The performance was courtesy Paralympian skier Danelle Umstead, whose powerful performance and incredible courage, made for the most memorable moment of the night. The reason? Danelle is the first-ever blind contestant to ever compete on the show.

With her partner on the show, Artem Chigvintsev, and their exceptionally well-choreographed foxtrot to Rise Up by Andra Day, Danelle managed to bag a whopping 18 out of 30. But things got even more emotional post-performance when her husband Rob and her guide dog, Aziza, arrived at the ballroom floor to express their love and support for Danelle - something that moved both judges and audience alike to tears.

Speaking to reporters backstage, Danelle said: "I was really vulnerable up there but I showed my true emotions and being the first blind dancer on the show, it's a proud moment. I hope to show America more."

As for the limitations of her sights, Danelle explained to Fox News: "I have very little vision. I have no central vision and I have no peripheral vision so I can see a lot of light when it's bright but it's really hard when I go from light to dark because of I completely black out. So I have a little vision in between — but it's [only] little sections and it's very blurry."

But she let none of that affect her set for the night as she swayed and danced around in her flowing pink dress. And when not making history on the ABC reality show, the skier relies on her husband to guide her down the mountains when she's in competition. As she also suffers from multiple sclerosis, Danelle told the outlet: "I was diagnosed eight years ago and we're trying to work through that, too, it's a big challenge [in dancing] …it affects my motor skills."

But she also added that participating on 'DWTS' had been a dream she had harboured ever since the day she held her baby boy in her arms and was watching the show. "I was four inches away from the television screen and I said I wanted to be the first blind contestant on 'Dancing with the Stars.' I threw it out to the universe."