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Daniel Durant is 'King Creole,' advances on 'Dancing with the Stars'

The Duluth actor's "CODA" co-stars Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur were in the audience for Elvis Night on the Disney+ reality competition show.

A woman and man wearing plum dance clothes perform on a wooden floor. The woman has her back to the camera and leg out to one side; the man strikes a triumphant pose with two fists in the air.
Britt Stewart and Daniel Durant danced to "King Creole" on episode two of "Dancing with the Stars" season 31.
Contributed / ABC / Christopher Willard
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DULUTH — Actor Daniel Durant once again wowed judges and voters on "Dancing with the Stars," easily advancing to a third week on the Disney+ reality competition show "Dancing with the Stars." Durant, of Duluth, and his dance partner, Britt Stewart, danced a jive to the title song from the 1958 film "King Creole."

A man and woman in plum dance clothes stand with their arms around one another, making the ASL sign for love.
Daniel Durant and dance partner Britt Stewart sent a message of love, in American Sign Language, on "Dancing with the Stars."
Contributed / ABC / Christopher Willard

"My legs are ready to be Elvis," said Durant in a rehearsal clip, demonstrating the King's signature wiggle. The catalog of Elvis Presley formed the basis of Monday's episode, a tribute to the late rock star. The actor's mothers, Lori Durant and Mary Engels, even joined their son and Stewart for a few steps during a visit to the practice space.

In an interview, Durant described being adopted at age 1. "Eighty percent of hearing parents don't learn sign language for their deaf children," he said. "My mothers gave me my first language, and that made me who I am today."

For the livestreamed show, two more celebrities were in attendance. Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur, Durant's costars in the 2021 movie "CODA," appeared onscreen with the understated caption "Daniel's friends." Both actors are Oscar winners: Kotsur for "CODA" and Matlin for "Children of a Lesser God" (1986). Matlin is also a "Dancing with the Stars" alumna herself, as judge Derek Hough quickly pointed out.

Dancing in a black Elvis wig and a plum-colored suit, Durant impressed the judges with his commitment to the character. "You have that stink face, that stank face. That is so sexy when you're dancing," said co-host Tyra Banks.

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Judges loved the Duluth actor, who danced a tango with his partner, Britt Stewart, and will advance to the next week of the reality TV competition.

"You were so strong, some of this shape felt almost sculpted," said judge Bruno Tonioli. "I was watching you, literally glued. 'I'm going to find something wrong.' I didn't." At the end of the night, Durant and Stewart were in fifth place overall by the judges' estimation. After Teresa Giudice ("The Real Housewives of New Jersey") was eliminated, Durant and Stewart were among the 14 couples advancing to a third week.

A woman and man in plum dance clothes receive praise from a man standing at a judges' table, holding his arms wide. All are smiling widely.
Britt Stewart and Daniel Durant received praise from judge Bruno Tonioli during Elvis Night on "Dancing with the Stars."
Contributed / ABC / Christopher Willard

"This week was the most frustrating and challenging week for me," Durant told co-host Alfonso Ribeiro after performing. "Jive was so hard. It's so fast! I can't hear anything. But I'm so thankful to have Britt. She believed in me, she figured out how to teach me the beats, and she's so patient with me. I'm proud to say that I did it tonight."

The next episode of "Dancing with the Stars" will stream live on Disney+ on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.

As the new film "Elvis" arrives Friday at theaters, collector Robert Foley, perhaps the leading expert on the King's 1970s scarves, describes how he came to own one worn at the Duluth Arena in 1976.

Related Topics: TELEVISIONMOVIESDULUTH
Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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