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Daniel Durant thrills in 'Dancing with the Stars' debut

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.

A woman and man stand in front of a stylized mirrored wall, posing for a photo in fun blue stage costumes.
Duluth actor Daniel Durant and "Dancing with the Stars" partner Britt Stewart.
Contributed / Disney+
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DULUTH — Actor Daniel Durant and his dance partner Britt Stewart earned cheers, both signed and audible, on Monday night as they danced the tango in the "Dancing with the Stars" season kickoff. Based on the scores of onscreen judges and votes from fans at home, they're among the teams advancing to another week in the reality TV competition.

"That was amazing!" said judge Carrie Ann Inaba after the dance. "You are such a leading man. It was debonair. It was powerful. The lines were gorgeous and stunning. You brought us through all the shades of an amazing tango."

With a score of 27, Durant and Stewart placed sixth among the 16 teams by the judges' estimation. The early front-runner, to no one's surprise, is Charli D'Amelio, a longtime competitive dancer who's become a TikTok celebrity. D'Amelio and her partner, Mark Ballas, scored 32 out of a possible 40.

The two-hour episode, which was the first live show to air on the streaming service Disney+, was packed with performances and bios spanning all the teams. After a short introduction citing Durant's acting career in projects including the Oscar-winning film "CODA," viewers saw previously recorded video of Durant (along with his interpreter, Gabriel Gomez) meeting Stewart and beginning to rehearse.

"I've never had the opportunity to teach anyone that is deaf, so I'm going to have to find a new approach on how we communicate," said Stewart on the show. "I don't know ASL, but I want to learn."


Performing in striking green outfits, Durant and Stewart performed a muscular tango to the actor's choice of songs, "Barbra Streisand" by the electronic group Duck Sauce.

"When I first heard that song at the club," said Durant, who has been deaf since birth, "I went right up to the speaker and I felt the bass all through my body."

"If Streisand was watching, she would be very, very pleased, and so am I." said judge Bruno Tonioli. "You are a magnetic performer."

During the performance, Durant's mothers, Duluthians Lori Durant and Mary Engels, were shown signing applause and love for their son. Together, Durant and Stewart have named themselves Team Sign To Shine.

"First, 'CODA' wins an Oscar. Next, I've got to get a Mirrorball," said Durant on the show, referencing the "Dancing with the Stars" trophy. "It'll happen."

The next episode of "Dancing with the Stars" will stream live on Disney+ on Monday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. The competition only gets tougher from here: Only one celebrity, "Sex and the City" actor Jason Lewis, was eliminated this week.

The actor, a star of Academy Award Best Picture winner "CODA," returned home to an exuberant celebration and a mayoral declaration at the DECC on Monday.

This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Sept. 20 to correct the spelling of the song title "Barbra Streisand." It was originally posted at 9:55 a.m. Sept. 20. The News Tribune regrets the error.

It was updated at 4:03 p.m. Sept. 20 to add a new image of Daniel Durant and Britt Stewart.

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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