Madison Nicole Ziegler (born September 30, 2002), better known as Maddie Ziegler, 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 2017, she gained wider fame for starring in six music videos by Sia, including “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart“, which cumulatively have attracted more than 3.5 billion views on YouTube. Ziegler has appeared in films, television and concerts, and has modeled on magazine covers and in advertisements for Capezio, Ralph Lauren and Target, among other brands. She was included by Time magazine on its list of the “30 most influential teens” in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017.
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 2016 and 2017 and toured in Australia with her sister, and later Sia, in 2017. Her 2017 memoir, The Maddie Diaries, was a New York Times Best Seller. She appeared in the animated film Ballerina (2016) and made her feature film debut in The Book of Henry (2017). Her social media presence includes an Instagram account with more than 10 million followers.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Philanthropy
- 4 Reputation and accolades
- 5 Filmography
- 6 Tours
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Ziegler was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Melissa Ziegler-Gisoni and Kurt Ziegler, who owned a mortgage company. She is of Polish, German and Italian descent. Her parents divorced in 2011, and her mother married Greg Gisoni in 2013. 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. Ziegler has a younger sister, Mackenzie, a dancer and singer who appeared with her on Dance Moms, 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.
Ziegler attended Sloan Elementary School until 2013, when she left to be homeschooled. Ziegler and her family have long lived in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and also spend part of their time in Los Angeles.
Dance Moms and music videos
With Abby Lee Dance Company, Ziegler won numerous titles at regional, state and national dance competitions, including the 2014 Dancers Choice Award for Favorite Dancer 17 & Under. In 2010, Ziegler performed for Paula Abdul‘s reality television program Live to Dance, but the program was canceled before her performance aired. In 2011, eight-year-old Ziegler and her mother appeared on the first season of Lifetime‘s Dance Moms, a reality show about the young dancers on Abby Lee Miller‘s Abby Lee Dance Company Elite Competition Team and their often quarrelsome mothers. Ziegler “emerged as the preternaturally polished standout on six seasons” on the show, where she continued to appear alongside her mother and younger sister, Mackenzie, until 2016, their last season on the show. In 2013, Ziegler made guest appearances on a spin-off program, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. 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.”
Ziegler has appeared in music videos for such artists as Alexx Calise, Sia and Todrick Hall. 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. The video won the ARIA Music Award for Best Video and received nominations at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year and Best Choreography, winning the latter. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2015. It has received more than 1.7 billion views on YouTube, and at one point it was the 13th most viewed YouTube video of all time. 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.”
In 2015, Ziegler starred with Shia LaBeouf in “Elastic Heart“, another Sia video, which has accumulated more than 800 million YouTube views. 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. 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. By the end of 2015, Ziegler had performed with Sia on the Ellen DeGeneres Show three times. She also performed to “Chandelier”, alongside Sia and Kristen Wiig, at the 2015 Grammy Awards. 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”. In 2016, Ziegler starred in a fourth Sia video, “Cheap Thrills“, from the album This Is Acting. A Teen Vogue reviewer wrote that Ziegler “delivers another powerful performance”. This was followed by a fifth Sia video, later that year, for “The Greatest“. The video of the song has accumulated more than 500 million YouTube views. 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.
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. In 2014, Ziegler appeared as a guest star in Episode 34 of HitStreak Summer, a made-for-mobile series. She continued her acting career in 2015 with guest spots on the Disney Channel series Austin & Ally and ABC Family‘s Pretty Little Liars. In January 2016, she guest starred in the episode “Ballet and the Beasts” on Nickelodeon‘s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn. She returned to Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn in January 2017 in the episode “Keeping Up with the Quadashians”.
Ziegler voiced the character Camille in the animated film, Ballerina (2016), released in the US in 2017 as Leap!, and played Christina in the feature film The Book of Henry (2017). 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.” 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.” A reviewer for Santa Monica Daily Press wrote that, in The Book of Henry, “Ziegler … does a wonderful job with a character forced to hide her pain”.
Modelling, endorsements and fashion
Ziegler has modeled for, or represented, such brands as Clean & Clear, Capezio, including their Betsey Johnson line, Target and Ralph Lauren. She has also been featured on numerous magazine covers and in fashion editorials for Kode, Schön! Magazine, Elle, Dance Spirit, Nylon, Vs., Seventeen, Harper’s Bazaar, People, Dazed, Cosmopolitan, i-D, Billboard, Teen Vogue, Stella, Maniac, Vanity Fair Italia, Flaunt, Paper and Galore.
In 2014, Ziegler and her sister Mackenzie released a fashion line, The Maddie & Mackenzie Collection, through Mod Angel. At the 2015 New York Fashion Week, Ziegler acted as a correspondent for Elle. She launched an eponymous casual fashion line, for girls and juniors, in October 2016, including tops, dresses, jackets and other items. In 2017, Ziegler appeared as a guest judge in an episode of Project Runway and began an endorsement deal with Kalahari Resorts. She appears on the cover of Sia’s 2017 album Everyday is Christmas.
Dancing and dance 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. A Huffington Post reporter called the number “stunning and graceful”. In April 2016, six of her pre-taped performances were projected onto the big screens during Sia’s Coachella set, and Ziegler appeared live with Sia at YouTube’s Brandcast event in New York City. In May 2016, Ziegler appeared on the season finale of The Voice with Sia, dancing to “Cheap Thrills”. 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. 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, and danced at Sia’s concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. In September 2016, Ziegler performed with Sia at the launch of Apple‘s iPhone 7 and at the iHeartRadio Music Festival.
She joined Sia on the singer’s “Nostalgic for the Present Tour” from September to November 2016. Ziegler and her sister conducted a dance workshop tour of Australia in January 2017. In March 2017, Ziegler performed at the Dubai World Cup with Sia. In September, Ziegler danced to Sia’s song “Rainbow”, from the soundtrack to My Little Pony: The Movie“, dressed in a wig and outfit that simulated the look of Sia’s character in the film. She again performed with Sia on a mini-tour of Australasia in November and December 2017.
Ziegler wrote the foreword to Abby Lee Miller’s 2014 memoir, Everything I Learned about Life, I Learned in Dance Class. Ziegler interviewed her friend Millie Bobby Brown for a cover article in the November 2016 issue of Interview magazine. She released her own memoir, The Maddie Diaries, in 2017, which became a New York Times Best Seller. Ziegler is writing a trilogy of novels for middle-grade readers. 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. The first novel, titled The Audition, was released in October 2017. The two other volumes are expected to follow in 2018 and 2019.
Ziegler has an active social media presence, with more than 10 million Instagram followers, over 1.2 million Twitter followers and over 1 million followers on Facebook. Videos of her dancing have accumulated more than 3.5 billion total views on YouTube. Her YouTube channel has more than one million subscribers.
In 2012, Ziegler, along with her mother and sister, partnered with Starlight Children’s Foundation to help raise awareness for chronically ill youth. In 2016, Ziegler and her sister made a public service announcement for DoSomething.org’s Birthday Mail campaign, which enables people to send homemade birthday cards to children living in homeless shelters. The same organization placed the Ziegler sisters on their 2016 list of charitable young celebrities. 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. Ziegler has also partnered with Dancers Against Cancer, appearing in public service announcements to raise awareness and funding for people battling cancer.
Reputation and accolades
In Billboard magazine, music writer Jason Lipshutz, called Ziegler’s work in “Chandelier” “a dazzling dance performance”. The Guardian commented that she “dances with such impressive flexibility”. 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”. Dazed magazine wrote that “Ziegler interprets the song’s lyrics into something that is deranged, isolated, manic and profound.” People magazine called her “a super-human graceful alien sent from Planet Talented to make us mere mortals look really clumsy”. 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.
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.” Billboard‘s Jason Lipshutz wrote that Ziegler’s live participation in Sia’s Nostalgic for the Present Tour “transforms a staged affair into a live one, and a great lineup into an indispensable arena experience” and 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.” 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.” Britt Robson of the Star Tribune added, “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”. Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that Ziegler’s frenetic moves and flickering expressions ramp up the songs’ emotional stakes. Reviewing Sia’s concert in 2017, Richard He of The Guardian called Ziegler “a physical virtuoso to match Sia’s vocal acrobatics, embodying the songs’ emotional turmoil.” David James Young of Junkee felt that Ziegler’s performance “cements her status as one of the great dancers of the modern era. … She leaves everything out there on the stage”. Bonnie Malkin of The Guardian wrote that Ziegler’s “face and body are extraordinary. … So expressive, so wild in her movement, so magnetic.”
Ziegler was named by Time magazine as one of the “30 most influential teens of 2015” she made the list again in 2016 and in 2017. She was also on the Harpers Bazaar 2015 list of “19 Rising Style Icons Aged 19 and Under”. 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”. Ziegler won a 2016 People’s Choice Award, a 2016 Teen Choice Award and a 2017 Teen Choice Award. She was nominated for a 2016 Shorty Award and four 2017 Shorty Awards, where she won in one category and received an audience honor in another.
Awards and nominations
|List of accolades|
|2013||Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards: Favorite Dancer||N/A||Nominated|||
|2014||Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards: Favorite Dancer 17 & Under||Won|||
|2015||The Dance Awards||Female Best Dancer (Junior)||3rd runner-up|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Dancer||Nominated|||
|Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards: Favorite Dancer 17 & Under||Nominated|||
|2016||People’s Choice Awards||DailyMail.com Seriously Popular Award||Won|||
|Shorty Awards||Best In Dance||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Dancer||Won|||
|Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards: Favorite Dancer 17 & Under||Nominated|||
|2017||Shorty Awards||Best In Dance||Nominated|||
|Medium-Length Video||“Maddie – Wear What Moves You”||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Dancer||N/A||Won|||
|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|||
|2016||Ballerina||Camille||Voice role. Released in the UK in 2016 and in the US in 2017 under the title Leap!|||
|2017||The Book of Henry||Christina Sickleman|||
|•||Denotes acting credits|
|2010||Live to Dance||Herself||CBS||Episode did not air|||
|2011–2016||Dance Moms||Herself||Lifetime||Main cast, 162 episodes|||
|2012–2015||The View||Herself / Performer||ABC||3 episodes|||
|2012||Drop Dead Diva •||Young Deb||Lifetime||Episode: “Lady Parts”|||
|2013||Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition||Herself||2 episodes|||
|2014–2017||The Ellen DeGeneres Show||Herself / Performer||NBCUniversal||4 episodes (3 with Sia)|||
|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)|||
|2015||Saturday Night Live||Performer||NBC||Sia: “Elastic Heart” (Season 40, Ep. 11)|||
|57th Annual Grammy Awards||CBS||Sia: “Chandelier” with Kristen Wiig|||
|Austin & Ally •||Shelby Hayden||Disney Channel||Episode: “Homework and Hidden Talents”|||
|Pretty Little Liars •||Creepy Dancer||ABC Family||Episode: “She’s No Angel”|||
|2016–2017||Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn •||Eiffel||Nickelodeon||2 episodes|||
|2016||The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60||Performer||ABC||Kelsea Ballerini: “Part of Your World“|||
|The Voice||Performer||NBC||Sia: “Cheap Thrills” (Season 10 finale)|||
|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|||
|2016–2017||Harry||Herself||NBCUniversal Television Distribution||2 episodes|||
|2017||Project Runway||Guest judge||Lifetime||August 31 episode|||
|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.|||
|WowWee snap pets||None||Ziegler and her sister take pictures of themselves with the mini Bluetooth cameras.|||
|“Dance In You”. Zielger stars as a disruptive force for self-expression in a ballet class. Choreography by Troy Schumacher.|||
|2011||“It’s Like Summer”||LUX||Supporting|||
|“Summer Love Song”||Brooke Hyland||Supporting|||
|2014||“It’s a Girl Party”||Mack Z|||
|“Freaks Like Me”||Todrick Hall||Supporting, vocals|||
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.
|2015||“Elastic Heart“||Sia||Lead, alongside Shia LaBeouf
Nom—MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video
|“Big Girls Cry“||Lead|||
|“Wear Em Out”||Kendall K||Assistant choreographer|||
|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|||
Music: “Feel It Still“
|Portugal. The Man||Co-lead with 5 other dancers
Brian Friedman, choreographer
- Nostalgic for the Present Tour with Sia (2016–17)
- Maddie & Mackenzie Australian Tour with Mackenzie Ziegler (2017)