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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Why We Should Pay Attention To Maddie Ziegler’s Words About ‘Dance Moms’

Photo credit: Bobby Quillard/Lifetime.

Let’s talk about Dance Moms. And I mean, let’s really talk about it. It’s a show that has been a ratings juggernaut for Lifetime since its debut in 2011. It has brought forth incredible young talents like Maddie Ziegler, Nia Sioux and Chloe Lukasiak. It also turned a successful dance competition circuit into a cash windfall for studio owners and producers of the competition tours.

I have interviewed many from the cast at this point — Maddie, Nia Sioux, Chloe Lukasiak, Gianna Martello, Asia Monet Ray and Jojo Siwa — and they are all bright, strong and beautiful young women. They are constantly asked about their time with Abby Lee Miller and it’s mostly been a positive spin.

In my December 2016 interview with Gianna, she talked about the fact that the drama of the parents was happening way before the show was even created.

We had issues with these moms before the TV show. Before Lifetime, it was always about us doing our usual routine at the studio because the moms sitting upstairs and fighting was nothing new,” she said.

While the TV cameras may have heightened the reality, the stress was already there. This brings me to the point of a new revelation from Maddie who is currently promoting her new book, The Maddie Diaries.

Maddie has been supportive of her time at Abby Lee Dance Company, but it’s the first time she revealed the cracks in the armor in her People magazine interview this week.

“I learned a lot of lessons. I had the craziest time when I was with her and on that team,” she told People. “I’m really glad that I did move on from that, and I did learn a lot from her and we did have some fun times. But I feel like now, I’ve never been happier in my life.”

And here's the kick in the gut: “I was stressed at 11 years old, which shouldn’t happen!” she said in reference to the pressures of winning on the competition circuit.

We can all go and blame Abby for the way she runs her studio, but that’s the easy thing to do. I’ve talked to plenty of dancers who have been in that same situation at their own local studios. In my years of dance, I had teachers who were just like Abby and who stressed me out in the same way Maddie described in her interview this week.

Dance Moms might be doing us a favor. Think about it. It’s giving us insight into some old-school practices that are better left in a dusty dance bag. Maybe we should take a greater look into some of those teaching methods because they are more common than you think.

So instead of demonizing one person, let’s take a closer look at how we are teaching the next generation of dancers as a whole. Let’s be able to differentiate between a strict, motivating teacher and a demoralizing one. And let’s make sure that dancers are having a joyful, not a stressful, experience in the art of movement.


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