Madison "Maddie" Nicole Ziegler (born September 30, 2002) is an American dancer, actress and model who achieved wide notice at an early age. 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 2 billion views on YouTube. Ziegler has also 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 named by Time magazine as one of the "30 most influential teens of 2015".
Ziegler was a judge on the 2016 season of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation and is set to join Sia on tour in 2016. She is also expected to make her feature film debut in The Book of Henry (2017).
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, citing the financial and emotional toll that dance took on the family, and her mother married Greg Gisoni in 2013. Ziegler has been an active member of the Abby Lee Dance Company since the age of two. She trains in tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, acro, jazz and aerial dance. Maddie Ziegler has a younger sister, Mackenzie (b. June 4, 2004), 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 now split their time between Murrysville and Los Angeles.
Dance Moms and music videos
Ziegler has 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 1.3 billion views on YouTube, and it was, at one point, 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 January 2015, Ziegler starred with Shia LaBeouf in "Elastic Heart", another Sia video, which has accumulated more than 600 million YouTube views. 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. Sia explained that the two dancers represented "warring 'Sia' self states", but she nevertheless apologized on Twitter to anyone who was offended. Later in 2015, Ziegler starred in "Big Girls Cry" to complete her trilogy of videos from Sia's album 1000 Forms of Fear. Since 2014, Ziegler has danced to Sia's vocals on several television shows, 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, titled "The Greatest". 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.
Acting, modeling and other activities
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. Ziegler is set to appear in a forthcoming feature film, The Book of Henry and to voice a character in the animated film Ballerina. She has also been cast in a film written and to be directed by Sia, titled Sister. 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."
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 and Paper. At the 2015 New York Fashion Week, she acted as a correspondent for Elle. In 2014, Ziegler and her sister released a fashion line, The Maddie & Mackenzie Collection, through Mod Angel. Ziegler has an active social media presence, with more than 7 million Instagram followers, over 1 million Twitter followers and over 700,000 followers on Facebook. Videos of her dancing have accumulated more than 2.5 billion total views on YouTube.
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, Ziegler appeared on the season finale of The Voice with Sia, dancing to "Cheap Thrills". In June she starred in another Todrick Hall video, "Taylor in Wonderland", based on Alice in Wonderland, dancing to a mash-up of Taylor Swift songs. The same month, 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. Ziegler also performed with Sia at the launch of Apple's iPhone 7, drawing media attention. She is set to join Sia on her "Nostalgic for the Present Tour", beginning in September.
Ziegler is planning to release an eponymous 30-piece fashion line for girls and juniors in October 2016. She is also planning to release a memoir, The Maddie Diaries, in 2017 and is writing a trilogy of novels for middle-grade readers with volumes to be published in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. The series celebrates the power and positivity of dance through the experiences of a young dancer competing together with teammates, making friends on the dance circuit and negotiating the challenges that pre-teens face.
In 2012, Ziegler, along with her mother and sister, partnered with Starlight Children's Foundation to help raise awareness for chronically ill youth. Ziegler stated that she enjoys dedicating her time to helping other children, and that it is a rewarding experience. 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. She also performed with Travis Wall at Nigel Lythgoe's Dizzy Feet Foundation gala to raise funds for dance education programs for low-income children and scholarships for talented students at dance schools in the U.S.
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." Lipshutz wrote that Ziegler's live participation makes Sia's upcoming 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."
Ziegler was named by Time magazine as one of the "30 most influential teens of 2015". She was also on the Harpers Bazaar 2015 list of "19 Rising Style Icons Aged 19 and Under" and won a 2016 People's Choice Award and a 2016 Teen Choice Award. She has been nominated for a 2016 Shorty Award.
Awards and nominations
|List of Accolades|
|2013||Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards|
|2014||Industry Dance Awards||Dancers Choice Awards|
Favorite Dancer 17 & Under
|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
|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
|Lucky Thirteen||2015||Herself||Short dance film by i-D, starring Ziegler, celebrating turning 13; voiceover by Chloë Sevigny reading from Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin|
|Ballerina||2016||Unknown||Post-production, Voice role (2016 France; worldwide 2017)|
|The Book of Henry||2017||Christina Sickleman||Post-production|
|•||Denotes acting credits|
|Live to Dance||2010||Herself||CBS||Episode did not air|
|Dance Moms||2011–2016||Lifetime||Main cast (136 episodes)|
|The View||2012||Performer||ABC||Dance "A Child Is Born" (Season 15, Ep. 110)|
|Drop Dead Diva •||Young Deb||Lifetime||Guest, Episode "Lady Parts"|
|The View||2013||Performer||ABC||Dance "The Last Text", episode dated February 20, 2013|
|Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition||Lifetime||2 Episodes|
|The Ellen DeGeneres Show||2014||NBCUniversal||Sia: "Chandelier" (Season 11, Ep. 160)|
|Jimmy Kimmel Live!||Herself; Dancer||ABC||Sia: "Chandelier"; Ziegler teaches hosts "Chandelier" dance (Season 12, Ep. 95)|
|Dancing with the Stars||Performer||Sia: "Chandelier", with Allison Holker (Season 19, Ep. 4)|
|Saturday Night Live||2015||Performer||NBC||Sia: "Elastic Heart" (Season 40, Ep. 11)|
|The Ellen DeGeneres Show||NBCUniversal||Sia: "Elastic Heart" (Season 12, Ep. 93)|
|57th Annual Grammy Awards||CBS||Sia: "Chandelier" with Kristen Wiig|
|Austin & Ally •||Shelby Hayden||Disney Channel||Guest, Season 4, Ep. 5 "Homework and Hidden Talents"|
|Dancing with the Stars||Performer||ABC||(Season 20, Ep. 9)|
|Pretty Little Liars •||Creepy Dancer||ABC Family||Guest, Season 6, Ep. 5 "She's No Angel"|
|The View||Performer||ABC||Dance "Together We Stand" (Season 19, Ep. 14)|
|The Ellen DeGeneres Show||NBCUniversal||Sia: "Alive" (Season 13, Ep. 59)|
|Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn •||2016||Eiffel||Nickelodeon||"Ballet and the Beasts" (Season 2, Ep. 14)|
|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|
|Company and product||Year||Featured song(s)||Description||Ref.|
|Target blue jeans||2015||"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.|
|"It's Like Summer"||2011||LUX||Supporting: Alongside Chloe Lukasiak, Nia Frazier, Mackenzie Ziegler, Brooke Hyland, and Paige Hyland.|
|"Summer Love Song"||Brooke Hyland||Supporting|
|"It's a Girl Party"||2014||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.
|"Elastic Heart"||2015||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|
|"Cheap Thrills"||2016||Sia||Lead, alongside two male dancers|
Nom—MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video
|"Taylor in Wonderland"||Todrick Hall||Lead|