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Maddie Ziegler

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Ziegler at the opening of Abby Lee Miller's dance studio in Santa Monica, California, May 2015

Madison Nicole "Maddie" Ziegler (born September 30, 2002)[1][2] is an American dancer, actress and model. She first became known for appearing in Lifetime's reality show Dance Moms from 2011 (at age 8) until 2016. From 2014 to 2016, she gained wider fame for starring in five music videos by Sia, including "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart", which cumulatively have attracted more than 3.2 billion views on YouTube. Ziegler has guest-starred on scripted shows, danced on various TV shows and at concerts, and has been seen on magazine covers and in feature articles. She has modeled for Capezio, Ralph Lauren and Target, among other brands. Ziegler was included by Time magazine on its list of the "30 most influential teens" in each of 2015 and 2016.

Ziegler was a judge on the 2016 season of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, toured with Sia in North America in late 2016 and toured in Australia with her sister in early 2017. Her 2017 memoir, The Maddie Diaries, is a New York Times Best Seller.[3] She is expected to make her feature film debut in The Book of Henry (2017).

Early life

Ziegler was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni and Kurt Ziegler, who owned a mortgage company.[4] She is of Polish, German and Italian descent.[5] Her parents divorced in 2011,[6] and her mother later married Greg Gisoni.[7] Ziegler began taking dance lessons at age two and joined the Abby Lee Dance Company at age four, where she trained in tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, acro, jazz and aerial dance.[5] Ziegler has a younger sister, Mackenzie, a dancer and singer who appeared with her on Dance Moms,[8] two older half-brothers from her father's previous marriage, and two older step-siblings from the previous marriage of her step-father, Greg Gisoni, a vice-president at Westinghouse Electric Company.[4][9]

Ziegler attended Sloan Elementary School until 2013, when she left to be homeschooled.[10] Ziegler and her family have long lived in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh,[11] and also spend part of their time in Los Angeles.[12]


Dance Moms and music videos

With Abby Lee Dance Company, Ziegler won numerous titles at regional, state and national dance competitions,[13] including the 2014 Dancers Choice Award for Favorite Dancer 17 & Under.[14] In 2010, Ziegler performed for Paula Abdul's reality television program Live to Dance, but the program was canceled before her performance aired.[15] In 2011, eight-year-old Ziegler and her mother appeared on the first season of Lifetime's Dance Moms,[16] a reality show about the young dancers on Abby Lee Miller's Abby Lee Dance Company Elite Competition Team and their often quarrelsome mothers.[2][17] Ziegler "emerged as the preternaturally polished standout on six seasons" on the show,[18] where she continued to appear alongside her mother and younger sister, Mackenzie,[19] until 2016, their last season on the show.[20][21] In 2013, Ziegler made guest appearances on a spin-off program, Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition.[22] Dance Moms helped to make Ziegler "one of the most famous dancers in the entertainment world currently. ... [She inspires] other dancers to pursue their dreams with originality and grace."[16]

A still from the "Chandelier" music video, featuring Ziegler

Ziegler has appeared in music videos for such artists as Alexx Calise, Sia and Todrick Hall.[23][24] She gained wide notice, at the age of 11, by starring in the 2014 video for "Chandelier" by Sia, who discovered her on Dance Moms.[18] The video won the ARIA Music Award for Best Video[25] and received nominations at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year and Best Choreography, winning the latter.[26] It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2015.[27] It has received more than 1.5 billion views on YouTube, and it was, at one point, the 13th most viewed YouTube video of all time.[28] Ziegler said of the choreography: "It was really different and weird for me, because I usually don't, you know, be a crazy person every time. It was so fun to do and it was really out of the box and it expanded me a lot, because I'm used to competition dances where you're like, Point your legs! But this time it was like, you just need to let go and feel it."[29]

A still from the "Elastic Heart" music video featuring Shia LaBeouf and Ziegler

In 2015, Ziegler starred with Shia LaBeouf in "Elastic Heart", another Sia video, which has accumulated more than 800 million YouTube views.[30] The video "courted controversy and plaudits in equal measure", with some commentators perceiving it as having pedophilic undertones due to the relative ages of the dancers.[31][32] Sia explained that the two dancers represented "warring 'Sia' self states", but she nevertheless apologized on Twitter to anyone who was offended.[33][34] Later that year, Ziegler starred in the music video for "Big Girls Cry" to complete her trilogy of videos from Sia's album 1000 Forms of Fear.[35] Ziegler danced to Sia's vocals on several television shows in 2014 and 2015, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dancing with the Stars, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Saturday Night Live, as well as at the Hollywood Bowl.[36][7] By the end of 2015, Ziegler had performed with Sia on the Ellen DeGeneres Show three times.[37] She also performed to "Chandelier", alongside Sia and Kristen Wiig, at the 2015 Grammy Awards.[38] The "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart" videos were both selected as part of PopSugar's 2016 list of "25 of the Best Dance Videos of the Last Decade".[39] In 2016, Ziegler starred in a fourth Sia video, "Cheap Thrills", from the album This Is Acting.[40] A Teen Vogue reviewer wrote that Ziegler "delivers another powerful performance".[41] This was followed by a fifth Sia video, later that year, for "The Greatest".[42][43] Reviewing Ziegler's performance, Kathleen Hildebrand wrote in Süddeutsche Zeitung that anyone who has seen Ziegler's "iconic" movement will never again return to "boringly ordinary" MTV videos.[44]

Other activities, 2012–present


In 2012, Ziegler landed her first professional acting job, portraying the character Young Deb on an episode of the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva.[45] In 2014, Ziegler appeared as a guest star in Episode 34 of HitStreak Summer, a made-for-mobile series.[46] She continued her acting career in 2015 with guest spots on the Disney Channel series Austin & Ally and ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars.[47][48] In January 2016, she guest starred in the episode "Ballet and the Beasts" on Nickelodeon's Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.[49] She returned to Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn in January 2017 in the episode "Keeping Up with the Quadashians".[50]

Ziegler voiced the character Camille in the animated film, Ballerina (2016), to be released in the US as Leap!,[51] and is set to appear in a feature film, The Book of Henry (2017).[52] She has also been cast in a film written and to be directed by Sia, titled Sister.[53] Ziegler expects to do more acting. She told Hunger magazine in 2016: "I don’t want to always be seen as a reality TV person. I want people to see that there's more that I can do. ... [T]his year acting is going to be my focus."[17] Colin Trevorrow, the director of The Book of Henry, told Entertainment Weekly that Ziegler "is extraordinarily capable. ... She finds whatever emotion she needs to dial in very quickly. No one taught her how to do that she just knows."[54]

Modelling, endorsements and fashion

Ziegler has modeled for, or represented, such brands as Clean & Clear,[55] Capezio,[56][57] including their Betsey Johnson line,[58] Target[59] and Ralph Lauren.[60] She has also been featured on numerous magazine covers and in fashion editorials[61] for Kode,[62] Schön! Magazine,[63] Elle, Dance Spirit, Nylon,[64] Vs.,[65] Seventeen,[66] Harper's Bazaar,[67] People,[68] Dazed,[69] Cosmopolitan,[70] i-D,[2] Billboard,[24] Teen Vogue,[71] Stella,[72] Maniac,[73] Vanity Fair Italia,[74] Flaunt[75] and Paper.[76]

In 2014, Ziegler and her sister Mackenzie released a fashion line, The Maddie & Mackenzie Collection, through Mod Angel.[77] At the 2015 New York Fashion Week, Ziegler acted as a correspondent for Elle.[78] She launched an eponymous 30-piece casual fashion line for girls and juniors, in October 2016, including tops, dresses, jackets and other items.[79] She intends to expand the line to include offerings in adult sizes beginning in the spring/summer of 2017.[80]

Dancing and judging

Ziegler appeared as the featured dancer in the ABC TV special The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 in February 2016, during the song "Part of Your World", sung by Kelsea Ballerini and choreographed by Travis Wall.[81] A Huffington Post reporter called the number "stunning and graceful".[82] In April 2016, six of her pre-taped performances were projected onto the big screens during Sia's Coachella set,[83] and Ziegler appeared live with Sia at YouTube's Brandcast event in New York City.[84] In May 2016, Ziegler appeared on the season finale of The Voice with Sia, dancing to "Cheap Thrills".[85] The following month, she starred in another Todrick Hall video, "Taylor in Wonderland", based on Alice in Wonderland, dancing to a mash-up of Taylor Swift songs.[86] Also in June, Ziegler joined Fox's So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, a television competition for dancers, ages 8 to 14, where she was one of the judges and a guest performer,[87] and danced at Sia's concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.[88] In September 2016, Ziegler performed with Sia at the launch of Apple's iPhone 7[89] and at the iHeartRadio Music Festival.[90]

She joined Sia on the singer's "Nostalgic for the Present Tour" from September to November 2016.[91] Ziegler and her sister conducted a dance workshop tour of Australia in January 2017.[92] In March 2017, Ziegler performed at the Dubai World Cup with Sia.[93]

Writing and social media

Ziegler wrote the foreword to Abby Lee Miller's 2014 memoir, Everything I Learned about Life, I Learned in Dance Class.[94] Ziegler interviewed her friend Millie Bobby Brown for a cover article in the November 2016 issue of Interview magazine.[95] She released her own memoir, The Maddie Diaries, in 2017,[96] which became a New York Times Best Seller.[97] Ziegler is writing a trilogy of novels for middle-grade readers with volumes scheduled to be published in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The series centers on a 12-year-old dancer, Harper, whose family relocates to a new state. Harper must negotiate pre-teen challenges, like making new friends, while earning her place on a competitive dance team.[98][99] The first novel is titled The Audition.[100]

Ziegler has an active social media presence, with more than 9 million Instagram followers,[101] over 1.1 million Twitter followers[102] and over 900,000 followers on Facebook.[103] Videos of her dancing have accumulated more than 3.3 billion total views on YouTube.[104] On January 1, 2017, Ziegler announced her official YouTube channel.[105]


In 2012, Ziegler, along with her mother and sister, partnered with Starlight Children's Foundation to help raise awareness for chronically ill youth.[106][107] Ziegler has also partnered with Dancers Against Cancer to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer.[108] In 2016, Ziegler and her sister made a public service announcement for's Birthday Mail campaign, which enables people to send homemade birthday cards to children living in homeless shelters.[109] The same organization placed the Ziegler sisters on their 2016 list of charitable young celebrities.[110] Ziegler also performed with Travis Wall at Nigel Lythgoe's Dizzy Feet Foundation gala in 2016 to raise funds for dance education programs for low-income children and scholarships for talented students at dance schools in the U.S.[111]

Reputation and accolades

In Billboard magazine, music writer Jason Lipshutz, called Ziegler's work in "Chandelier" "a dazzling dance performance".[112] The Guardian commented that she "dances with such impressive flexibility".[113] Rolling Stone thought that her "crisp moves and theatrical mugging were a great fit for Ryan Heffington's imaginative choreography" and praised her "charisma that makes this video mesmerizing: Her dancing makes your memory tingle".[114] Dazed magazine wrote that "Ziegler interprets the song's lyrics into something that is deranged, isolated, manic and profound."[69] People magazine called her "a super-human graceful alien sent from Planet Talented to make us mere mortals look really clumsy".[68] A 2015 feature in The Huffington Post praised Ziegler's artistry:

Her ... jétés and pirouettes juxtapose self-containment with a sort of reckless abandon. But it is her face ... that truly captivates her audience thanks to the tantalizing allure of catharsis through art. [Ziegler's] work ethic, not to mention her evident love for the art, has made her relentlessly relevant. She has something to say with her performances, whether in a music video for Sia or in a solo at nationals. Her technique is lovely, especially for a 12-year-old. She has stretched knees, pointed feet, and arms that float on clouds, her fingers perfectly placed. But still more important is her virtuosity, her connection with the public. She tells a narrative that resonates with the viewer, whether portraying a scorned lover or a werewolf. This maturity is astounding for a preteen – she just gets it. She's meant to perform, meant to communicate with people. She has defied the odds of Generation Z's competitive, egocentric mentality to make her career about the work, not the celebrity.[115]

Ballet choreographer Troy Schumacher told New York magazine in 2016: "She has, fascinatingly, really created her own world of dance. When we talk about great dancers, it's definitely a persona that leaves a lasting impression – it's not necessarily the most technically perfect dancer. She's only 13, but there's a strong sense of personality that comes through in her movement that is somewhat iconic."[18] Lipshutz wrote that Ziegler's live participation made Sia's 2016 Nostalgic for the Present Tour "arguably the most anticipated major tour of the entire year (Adele aside). ... Because she's that good as a live performer. ... Ziegler's presence transforms a staged affair into a live one, and a great lineup into an indispensable arena experience."[116] Leslie Ventura of Las Vegas Weekly noted that, on the tour, "Ziegler ... danced furiously alongside the singer, adding dimension and weight to the dramatic vocals."[117] Britt Robson of the Star Tribune similarly commented, "The clear-cut star was Ziegler, obviously Sia’s alter ego. ... Ziegler was a riveting whirlwind, contorting her appendages and facial expressions with equal aplomb, topped by forward flips".[118] Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that Ziegler's frenetic moves and flickering expressions ramp up the songs' emotional stakes.[119] Billboard's Jason Lipshutz said that Ziegler "possesses an astounding control of her physicality. ... [Her] presence adds a mischievous energy, as if replicated movements can't capture the heart behind those wide eyes and deranged smiles."[120]

Ziegler was named by Time magazine as one of the "30 most influential teens of 2015"[61] and made the list again in 2016.[121] She was also on the Harpers Bazaar 2015 list of "19 Rising Style Icons Aged 19 and Under".[122] Billboard selected Sia and Ziegler's performance of "Elastic Heart" on Saturday Night Live 2015 as one of the 10 Best SNL musical performances since the 1990s, "thanks in part to 12-year-old dance phenom Maddie Ziegler, who ... displayed power, vulnerability, and more than a little weirdness".[123] Ziegler won a 2016 People's Choice Award[124] and a 2016 Teen Choice Award.[125] She was nominated for a 2016 Shorty Award[126] and four 2017 Shorty Awards, where she won in one category and received an audience honor in another.[127][128]

Awards and nominations

List of accolades
Year Award Category Work Result Ref(s)
2013 Industry Dance Awards Dancers Choice Awards
Favorite Dancer
N/A Nominated [129]
2014 Industry Dance Awards Dancers Choice Awards
Favorite Dancer 17 & Under
Won [14]
2015 The Dance Awards Female Best Dancer (Junior) 3rd runner-up [130]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Dancer Nominated [131]
Industry Dance Awards Dancers Choice Awards
Favorite Dancer 17 & Under
Nominated [132]
2016 People's Choice Awards Seriously Popular Award Won [124]
Shorty Awards Best In Dance Nominated [126]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Dancer Won [125]
Industry Dance Awards Dancers Choice Awards
Favorite Dancer 17 & Under
Nominated [133]
Breakthrough Performer Won [134]
2017 Shorty Awards Best In Dance Nominated [127]
Medium-Length Video "Maddie – Wear What Moves You" Nominated [128]
Brand Identity Won
Fashion Audience Honor



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2015 Lucky Thirteen Herself Short dance film by i-D, starring Ziegler, celebrating turning 13; voiceover by Chloë Sevigny reading from Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin [135]
2016 Ballerina Camille Voice role. Released in the UK in 2016 and the US in 2017 [51]
2017 The Book of Henry Christina Sickleman Post-production [136]
TBA Sister Pre-production [53]


 • Denotes acting credits
Year Title Role Network Notes Ref.
2010 Live to Dance Herself CBS Episode did not air [15]
2011–2016 Dance Moms Herself Lifetime Main cast, 162 episodes [137]
2012–2015 The View Herself / Performer ABC 3 episodes [138]
2012 Drop Dead Diva • Young Deb Lifetime Episode: "Lady Parts" [139]
2013 Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition Herself 2 episodes [22]
2014–2017 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Herself / Performer NBCUniversal 4 episodes (3 with Sia) [140][37]
2014–2015 Dancing with the Stars Performer ABC Sia: "Chandelier", with Allison Holker (Season 19, Ep. 4)
Josh Groban: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Season 20, Ep. 9)
2014 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Herself, Dancer ABC Sia: "Chandelier"; Ziegler teaches hosts "Chandelier" dance (Season 12, Ep. 95) [143]
2015 Saturday Night Live Performer NBC Sia: "Elastic Heart" (Season 40, Ep. 11) [144]
57th Annual Grammy Awards CBS Sia: "Chandelier" with Kristen Wiig [38]
Austin & Ally • Shelby Hayden Disney Channel Episode: "Homework and Hidden Talents" [47]
Pretty Little Liars • Creepy Dancer ABC Family Episode: "She's No Angel" [48]
2016–2017 Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn • Eiffel Nickelodeon 2 episodes [49][50]
2016 The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 Performer ABC Kelsea Ballerini: "Part of Your World" [81]
The Voice Performer NBC Sia: "Cheap Thrills" (Season 10 finale) [85]
So You Think You Can Dance:
The Next Generation
Judge and guest dancer Fox 10 episodes, including 8 as a judge and 2 as a guest dancer [87]
2016–2017 Harry Herself NBCUniversal Television Distribution 2 episodes [145][146]


Year Company and product Featured song(s) Description Ref.
2015 Target blue jeans "ABC"
(Tori Kelly cover)
"Back to School 2015: Jeans Jam". Ziegler and others dancing in Target jeans. The commercial had 1,092 national TV airings. [147]
WowWee snap pets None Ziegler and her sister take pictures of themselves with the mini Bluetooth cameras. [148]
2016 Capezio "Trying Time"
(Raph Parpex)
"Dance In You". Zielger stars as a disruptive force for self-expression in a ballet class. Choreography by Troy Schumacher. [57][149]

Music videos

Year Title Artist Notes Ref.
2011 "It's Like Summer" LUX Supporting [150]
2012 "Cry" Alexx Calise Lead [23]
"Summer Love Song" Brooke Hyland Supporting [151]
2014 "It's a Girl Party" Mack Z [152]
"Freaks Like Me" Todrick Hall Supporting, vocals [153]
"Chandelier" Sia Lead
ARIA Music Award for Best Video
MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography
Nom—MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year
Nom—Grammy Award for Best Music Video.
"Shine" Mack Z Supporting [154]
2015 "Elastic Heart" Sia Lead, alongside Shia LaBeouf
Nom—MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video
"Big Girls Cry" Lead [35]
"Wear Em Out" Kendall K Assistant choreographer [155]
2016 "Cheap Thrills" Sia Lead, alongside two male dancers
Nom—MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video
Nom—ARIA Music Award for Best Video
"Taylor in Wonderland" Todrick Hall Lead [86]
"The Greatest" Sia Lead [42]



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External links