Many of us wouldn’t know who Maddie Ziegler was if it wasn’t for the show Dance Moms. However, while Ziegler may have gotten her start on the hit show, she says she doesn’t miss it or her former Dance coach, Abby Lee Miller.
If you ever watched the show, you know it was high drama with young girls competing with each other for the top spot on the weekly pyramid. Parents were involved, and Abby Lee Miller was the ring leader.
Now, perhaps her most successful student, Maddie Ziegler, who has gone on to star in movies and music videos, is speaking out against Miller. According to Ziegler herself, she doesn’t talk to her former dance coach anymore.
Former ‘Dance Moms’ Star Slams Abby Lee Miller Calling It ‘Toxic’
Currently the cover star for Cosmopolitan magazine, Ziegler, who first found TV fame at just 8 years old, told the publication that she “definitely” feels “at peace” with ending her professional relationship with Miller. According to Ziegler, she and Miller haven’t talked since Ziegler left the company in 2016.
Ziegler admitted to Cosmo that, at first, she felt bad for leaving the Abby Lee Dance Company, saying Miller “was distraught. For the longest time, we felt so guilty.”
Ziegler admitted that Miller did do a lot for her, in terms of getting her name out there, but Ziegler also said the environment Abby created was toxic. “She trained me, she helped me, but also, I knew I would be okay without her and I was sick of being in a toxic environment,” the now 19-year-old admitted.
“I was like, ‘This is not for me. I can’t do this.’ I haven’t spoken to her since.” Ziegler said she does has fond memories of being the star of Dance Moms but eventually, it all became too much.
“I was the most loyal girl there; I just wanted to dance. And I loved competing until it became televised and the drama started. Don’t get me wrong—there’s drama regardless if there are cameras or not! But it was heightened.
I started to feel like, it’s so peaceful outside of this world. I can’t be in this. My family and I really tried to leave for the last three seasons. But when you’re in a contract, it’s really hard. Eventually, I finally got out.”
It was so toxic that the teen admitted that she has had to “dissociated so much from that time,” admitting that now when she sees old clips from the show, she can’t even remember it happening anymore. She talked about how producers made her out to be the “brat” of the show, but Ziegler wasn’t as cocky in real life as the show made her seem.
“People thought I was a brat because, in all my interviews, I would say, ‘I’m the best. I know I’m going to win.’ But that’s because the producer was telling me to say that. I don’t think I’m better than everyone else. I was just doing whatever they told me to do because I thought that’s what you did. They set you up for failure.”
Ziegler added that at just the ripe age of 8, she had “more stress at that age than I did once I left. […] It’s weird because there were really amazing times, but there were also a lot of things that were really, really not great for us kids.” Maddie went on to admit that she had to unlearn a lot of the thing Miller drilled into her head at such a young age.
“My dance teacher taught that if you don’t get the trophy, if you don’t get the crown, you are less than, which is the worst way to train a kid. It carries into other life lessons. We also weren’t allowed to watch our competitors or be friends with them. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of those things,” Maddie admitted.
And while Ziegler did manage to maintain her success away from Miller, Miller has dealt with hardship after hardship over the last several years. From being sentenced to prison for bankruptcy fraud to her ongoing health issues that left her unable to walk, it hasn’t been an easy road.
Miller also spoke out against some of the families she worked with over the last decade, slamming them for not reaching out to her while she was incarcerated. “Shame on you. Shame on you after what I did for you, for your children — helped make you a lot of money,” Miller told Entertainment Tonight. “You couldn’t come to visit me for eight and a half months? You couldn’t send a card, a letter?”
Nonetheless, while Ziegler has become a very recognizable face in Hollywood over the last few years, Miller is still running her dance company.
Abby Lee has not yet responded to Ziegler’s interview.
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