'I Might Be a Little in Love with Him': 'Dancing with the Stars' ' Sharna Burgess on Working with Deaf Model Nyle DiMarco

Burgess was partnered with the deaf model for Switch-Up Week on DWTS Monday

Photo: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Going into Switch-Up Week on Dancing with the Stars, pro dancer Sharna Burgess had one goal for her partner Nyle DiMarco.

“I told him at the beginning at the week that my goal was to make everyone cry,” Burgess tells PEOPLE.

And she and the deaf America’s Next Top Model winner succeeded Monday, though perhaps not in the way Burgess had planned.

“I meant the audience, not him, myself, [his usual partner Peta Murgatroyd] and [ANTM host] Tyra Banks,” she says. “But I’ll take it!”

Burgess calls her week spent working with DiMarco, 26, a “beautiful growing experience” and says it has made her a better teacher.

“The thing with Nyle is I can’t second-guess what I say. I have to be very clear,” says Burgess, who admits she had to change her way of teaching a bit to work with the deaf model.


“I work with sound and sound effects rather than counts, but Nyle needs the counts so he gets the repetition of the beats and know when to step,” she explains. “I had to go back and figure out the counts a lot. I’ve learned better and more efficient ways to explain things.”

DiMarco has stunned the judges with his ability to stay on beat during his performances – a skill Burgess attributes his success to his “superhuman” senses.

“His senses of sight and touch are heightened to a degree that most of us will never really understand,” she says. “In the entire dance we only had to have two cues. For the rest of the routine, he could just feel where my body was moving. He could sense my timing around him. It was incredible to watch his internal timing.”

But what impresses Burgess, 30, even more was DiMarco’s ability to convey the musicality and emotion of the dance.

“He put the emotion into it because he would see the emotion I was putting into my face and body,” she says. “It was fascinating.”

Though Burgess will return to her usual partner, Antonio Brown, next week, she is not likely to forget her time with DiMarco any time soon.

“I absolutely adore him,” she says of DiMarco. “I might be a little in love with him. He’s the most incredible man.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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