Deaf Model Nyle DiMarco Wows Judges with 'Unbelievable' Dancing with the Stars Debut
03/21/2016 AT 09:50 PM EDT
America's Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco wowed the judges on Monday's Dancing with the Stars – and his high scores were made all the more impressive because he wasn't able to hear the music.
"You could be America's Next Top Dancer. Unbelievable," judge Bruno Tonioli said, while Carrie Ann Inaba raved that the deaf model "brought the rhythm to life."
Len Goodman admitted he didn't know what to expect, but said he wasn't "expecting that."
"It was terrific," said Goodman. "I wasn't sure about it for the begin with, but once you got into it … it just got better than better."
DiMarco, who couldn't hear the music, said he also couldn't feel the vibrations, so he had to depend on pro Peta Murgatroyd to lead him.
"She's dancing to the music, I just follow her with my eyes," said DiMarco.
After the show, the 26-year-old told PEOPLE he was relieved the dance went so well.
"The judges are the most intimidating part. This is their expertise, so to get that feedback from them is a relief," DiMarco told PEOPLE. "But that doesn't mean I can take it easy for week two."
Earlier, during a pre-recorded segment, he admitted the one comment he dreaded hearing was that he was off time.
"I'm ready to take the world by storm and have them look at me and say, 'deaf people can dance,' " he said through an interpreter.
DiMarco scored 23 out of 30, which (so far) ties him for first place for the evening, along with Wanya Morris and Ginger Zee.
It's been an eventful week for DiMarco, who was hospitalized while preparing for the show, when Murgatroyd accidentally struck him in the face. He received four stitches just above his eyebrow and was soon back in the studio rehearsing.
The model, who blogs for PEOPLE exclusively, called his DWTS "amazing" so far in his first vlog.
"I'm surprising myself that I actually can dance. Peta, my partner, was also surprised that I can dance," he said.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.