How Maddie Ziegler Helped Sister Kenzie Cope With "Stressful" Dance Moms Environment

Maddie Ziegler and her sister Kenzie Ziegler both appeared on Dance Moms from 2011 to 2016. Scroll on for the duo’s quotes on growing up in the spotlight and toxic relationships.

By Elyse Dupre May 18, 2021 1:00 PMTags
Watch: Maddie Ziegler's Rise From Dancing Tween to Superstar

It's been about a decade since fans first met Maddie Ziegler and Kenzie Ziegler on Dance Moms.

The show premiered in 2011—when the sisters were 8 and 6 years old, respectively—and quickly became a hit. 

"We got pulled out of school every day to go to dance and film a TV show, so that was not normal at all," Maddie, now 18, recalled to Kenzie, now 16, during a conversation for Elite Daily. "We ended up not even finishing [at our] elementary school, because we got pulled out so much for work. And then once we started traveling, people started recognizing us. I remember we were in an ice cream store and someone called our names, and we were so freaked out. Like, how did these people know us? And then we realized, Oh, there's a lot of attention around our show

The reality series followed Abby Lee Miller's team of young dancers and their mothers as the students prepared for and competed in dance contests across the country. While Kenzie admitted growing up in the spotlight was "unusual," she also said she didn't remember what life was like before.

"I don't think we processed how unusual it was for a 6- and 8-year-old," Maddie agreed. "Luckily, me and you had each other."

Dance Moms: Where Are They Now?

Indeed, Kenzie noted she was glad to have her sibling by her side through it all. "When I was younger, I was going through a lot of hate, so I'm glad that I had you," she said during their discussion. "Our teacher, the environment we were in—it was all very stressful as a kid. I'm glad we were doing the same thing so I could have a shoulder to lean on."

Presley Ann/Getty Images

Maddie and Kenzie left the show in 2016 and continued to find success. Maddie, for instance, has appeared in several of Sia's music videos and started acting (she recently appeared in Music and is set to star in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story remake). As for Kenzie, she's also worked with Sia and has launched a career as a singer. In addition, both siblings have written books, done clothing and beauty collaborations and garnered millions of followers on social media.

All in all, it seems like both dancers have moved on from the show. In fact, Maddie wrote in her 2017 book The Maddie Diaries: A Memoir that she's "probably only seen one entire episode from start to finish."

"We lived through it, so I don't feel like we have to watch it," she told People, "and it was just so much drama that I don't want to see it again."

As for her experience dancing at Abby's studio, Maddie also told the magazine, "I learned a lot of lessons. I had the craziest time when I was with her and on that team. 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."