Artem Chigvintsev explains how he'll teach the first visually impaired 'DWTS' contestant to dance (Exclusive)
Everyone loves a heartwarming story on Dancing With the Stars, and this season, that will come from the dance competition show's first-ever visually impaired contestant.
Her name is Danelle Umstead, and she's already led a rockstar life in her own right. She's an American alpine skier and Paralympian who became passionate about the sport after being introduced to it by her father, winning three bronze medals over the course of her career. Now, she's heading to the ballroom in hopes of winning a mirrorball trophy with her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev.
ET caught up with the dance duo following DWTS' full cast reveal on Good Morning America on Wednesday, where Artem and Danelle explained the various challenges the two will face this season, and how they plan to overcome them.
Danelle -- who is visually impaired and also living with multiple sclerosis -- told us that she knew right off the bat what she signed herself up for when she said yes to doing the show.
"I'm all about living the impossible every day. That's my motto," she shared. "When it finally soaked in that they wanted me on the show and reached out to me, I was like, 'That's super impossible. I can't do that, even though I always wanted to.'"
"I said it was impossible, so I'm like, 'I have to do it now,' because I'm all about living the impossible," she added. "The challenge is here and it's real and it's big. I'm ready to take it on."
While most contestants will be relying on their pro partners to show them the moves, Artem will have to teach Danelle how to dance solely through sound and feeling.
"I can't visualize anything. I have no central vision and I have no peripheral vision," Danelle explained. "So Artem showing anything is not gonna work out between us. It's all by explanation and feeling. It's a big challenge and Artem is up for it."
Artem chimed in, telling ET that this partnership will surely be unlike any others he's had on previous seasons.
"Let's just say that every other season I was showing my dance steps most of the time, and now I'm actually talking them through, which is a lot of talking for four hours," he joked. "Sometimes I'm like, 'I need a water break.'"
"It's interesting because you would think as a dance instructor and dance teacher, the only way to teach dance is about showing [the movements]," he continued. "But actually there are so many other ways you can do it, and I think it's even more rewarding that way, because of the expectation of people tuning in and thinking, like, 'Well, what is it actually gonna look like?' Believe me, there's a way of teaching and me witnessing that is like an eye-opener."
"People who are going to be watching ... you don't have to limit yourself to anything," Artem added. "Everything is possible, you just have to find your way of doing it."
Later in our interview, Danelle compared her partnership with Artem to how she works professionally with her husband, Rob. She told ET that she and Rob compete together as a couple, with him as her guide.
"I think [Artem and I are] figuring out our own language. In skiing, my husband and I are a team. We learned how to ski together and have our own language," she explained. "Artem and I are figuring it out together, but we don't have as much time to figure it out. We are on a time limit, which could be intense."
"It's scary because you never know if it's going to work," Artem added. "But after every single rehearsal, we do walk out with improvements."
If they ever need some extra support, they can always rely on Danelle's seeing-eye dog, Aziza, who we can only hope makes an appearance on the show. When we asked if she'll be putting her paws in the ballroom, Danelle excitedly exclaimed, "Yes, I hope so!"
"Absolutely," she added. "She's got to."
Season 27 of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. See the full list of contestants here.