DWTS Alum Reveals Surprising Moment of Healing


Heavy A former "DWTS" guest performer opened up about her younger years on "Dance Moms."

A former guest performer from “Dancing with the Stars” recently opened up about some difficult times from her past, and how she has worked on healing. Maddie Ziegler is known by most of her fans for her years on “Dance Moms,” but she has popped up in the “DWTS” world several times over the years too. Viewers loved her performance during season 27 when she did a trio number with Alan Bersten and Alexis Ren, and she hit the stage a couple of times prior to that as well. While her “Dancing with the Stars” appearances have gone quite well, Ziegler’s fans know that life was far more dramatic while she was on “Dance Moms.” Now, years later, she has revealed her mother has shared some important reflections about that time in her life.

Here’s what you need to know:

Maddie Ziegler Was Very Hard on Herself

Ziegler opened up about her younger years during a recent episode of Emily Ratajkowski’s podcast, “Hi-Lo EmRata.” She noted she started dancing at the age of 2, and she was doing gymnastics at a young age as well. Ziegler’s mother, Melissa Gisoni, started her oldest daughter in dance just because she thought Ziegler would be cute, and the tiny dancer was doing recitals and competitions by the age of 4. Ziegler recalled that, according to her mom, she was “bawling my eyes out because I wanted to go back on” stage after her first recital, and she felt “instantly” she was meant to be on stage. Just a couple of years later, Ziegler was scouted for “Dance Moms.”

When she was a young, competitive dancer on reality television, Ziegler felt a lot of pressure to “be the best” with a thought process that “if you don’t win, you’re not good.” She admitted she was a perfectionist and very hard on herself, and “now I’m trying to unlearn all those traits and it’s an ongoing battle.”

Ziegler also noted that during her “Dance Moms” years, she was frequently portrayed as the “most well-treated dancer.” In the years since then, however, many former viewers have realized she was under a lot of pressure as the one expected to be a “golden girl” who would lead the team to victory at every competition. Ziegler noted that was “not sustainable,” and the drive for perfection she developed was a problem. Not only that, but she sometimes feels that long-time “Dance Moms” fans seem to “almost know more about my little self than I do,” and she’s often still perceived as a little girl.

Ziegler’s Mother Recently Apologized


The former “Dancing with the Stars” guest performer also recalled her early days on “Dance Moms,” where she was just 7 and told by producers what to do and say. As a result, she came off as “a little brat” and she cried at the time after watching the first episode. When asked how her mom looks back at that, Ziegler revealed, “Last year, my mom was having a really bad panic attack and I called my mom… things were coming up from the past and she apologized to me.” Ziegler detailed that Gisoni told her daughter, “I’m so sorry that I put you through that.” The dancer added, “It’s so sad because it’s like, she would never want to hurt us, of course, but… none of us knew how crazy it would get.”

Ziegler also revealed her mother tried to break their “Dance Moms” contract so they could get away from the show.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until Ziegler’s connection with singer Sia developed that they were able to make it happen. Ziegler seemingly did not mention her “Dance Moms” instructor, Abby Lee Miller, at all during the podcast appearance. Despite that, long-time fans know the show frequently made Ziegler look like Miller’s favorite, to the detriment of her dynamic with the other dancers. In June 2022, Ziegler talked with Cosmopolitan and noted Miller was “distraught” when the dancer and her mom parted ways with the show. As a result, “For the longest time, we felt so guilty.” On the other hand, at the time, Ziegler was “sick of being in a toxic environment,” and she knew she couldn’t do it any longer.

Her “Dance Moms” experience impacted Ziegler in many ways over the years, but it seems the recent conversation she had with her mother helped mend some long-standing wounds they both had developed over the years-long, intense experience.