After just two short weeks on Season 27 of Dancing With the Stars, blind Paralympian Danelle Umstead and her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev, were sadly eliminated on the Tuesday, Oct. 2 episode — and, frankly, fans are not happy about it.
“Really REALLLY bummed @DanelleUmstead got eliminated this week. I know she wasn’t ‘the best’ dancer but I loved watching her learn to dance. Truly amazing,” one person wrote on Twitter with another similarly lamenting, “I’m so sad about this! What an inspiration to everyone! [Thank you], Danelle, for [your] beautiful dancing and facing what had to be so scary! And you, Artem, for what most would have seen as an impossible challenge. Love you both.”
To make Danelle’s surprise elimination even worse, hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews revealed on last night’s show that there had been a voting glitch so only this week’s online votes could be counted and votes via phone could not. Since there was such a huge voting error, many people thought it was wrong to still send Danelle home and urged DWTS to bring her back and just make next week’s show a double elimination.
“@DancingABC, how about you do the right thing and bring @DanelleUmstead back on because of the phone glitch. Completely unfair that you still proceeded with the elimination!” one person wrote on social media. Another person added, “Shame on Dancing With the Stars. It’s so rigged with people who are professional dancers. That stacks the deck against those who are not. I voted every night for Danelle, she’s an inspiration to all. I’m sorry America didn’t see that.”
This morning, both Danelle, 46, and Artem, 36, appeared on GMA to discuss their DWTS run and Danelle revealed her reaction to her surprise elimination. “I’m still a bit emotional,” she began. “Four dances in two weeks — it was tough and I put a lot of work into it and Artem put a lot of work into me. I wish we had the opportunity to do it a little longer.”
Artem also took to Instagram to thank his partner for their too-short run on the reality competition. “It’s really hard to put in words how I feel. Humble, sad, and inspired at the same time. Watching a blind woman cry is truly heartbreaking,” he wrote. “[Danelle], you’ve touched so many people out there with your spirit, determination, and love, you made me appreciate life and not take it for granted, you made me a better teacher and a better person. I will always remember that. Stay who you are and never change you making impossible possible!”
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It’s really hard to put in words how I feel. Humble, sad and inspired at the same time. Watching a blind woman cry is truly heartbreaking. @danelleumstead you’ve touched so many people out there with your spirit determination and love, you made me appreciate life and not take it for granted, you made me a better teacher and a better person. I will always remember that. Stay who you are and never change you making impossible possible!
After her very first Dancing With the Stars performance, Danelle gushed to Entertainment Tonight about her “amazing” experience thus far on the show. “It was beautiful and exciting and scary and everything put into a beautiful package, thanks to Artem,” she said. The Paralympian — who lost her sight from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disorder — also opened up about the challenges she faced on DWTS.
“Artem is guiding me 100 percent. I feel it in his touch, I feel it in his movement, and his words. So he’s painting me a picture all the time, whether it’s through words or through feeling, and it’s a beautiful thing,” the mom-of-one explained. “I have four years to train for [the Paralympics]. Artem and I have a week. So it’s intense. I push myself sometimes a little too hard, and I’m a perfectionist. I’m always thinking I can do better.”
Artem — who has been a pro on Dancing With the Stars since Season 19 in 2014 — also spoke out about working with Danelle. “Coming into this, I did not know what to do, honestly. It’s me trying things and seeing if it works, it’s a bit of trial and error for both of us. And it’s a journey for Danelle as much as a journey for myself, because I never thought I would have an opportunity to teach a blind person how to dance. It’s me re-learning how to choreograph and challenging myself as a coach. You don’t get opportunities like that all the time,” he said. We’ll miss watching you on the show so much, Danelle!