Checking in With Maddie Ziegler and the Rest of the Dance Moms Cast

As Dance Moms' Maddie Ziegler marks her 21st birthday, we're catching up with her and the rest of Abby Lee Miller's former charges to see how they've been living off the dance floor.

By Sarah Grossbart Sep 30, 2023 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Dance Moms' Abby Lee Miller Reveals Why She Sold Her Dance Studio

For six seasons on Dance Moms, all Maddie Ziegler did was win. 

Reflecting on her experience as Abby Lee Miller's star pupil, Maddie told Cosmopolitan last year, "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."

Which is precisely what the Pittsburgh native did after leaving Abby and what she described as the series' "toxic environment" behind nearly a decade ago. "I'm going to therapy, talking to people, doing all the things," Maddie told the mag. "I've learned I'm not going to be in trouble if I'm feeling bad or if I have an injury. That's the biggest difference. It's amazing that I'm able to feel my feelings and not just push them down. I'm also just really clean. That's where my perfectionism has transferred."

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And as she celebrates her 21st birthday Sept. 30, Maddie's still collecting victories, first as electropop musician Sia's muse—her dance-heavy music videos racking up billions of YouTube views—and now as an actress-slash-author-slash-whatever-else-she-puts-her-mind-to, like her and younger sister Kenzie Ziegler's latest collaboration with clothing brand American Eagle.  

And though Maddie hasn't done a binge-watch of her time on the Lifetime series, "We are so close with all the girls, again, like the original cast," she told E! News in a joint 2021 interview with Kenzie. Now each forging their own paths in entertainment, "It's so cool to hang out as young adults," she continued. "It's so much fun to not have a crazy environment around us. We just all hang out at each other's houses and it's just really chill and fun."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Because after years of saving tears for their pillows, the Dance Mom alums are enjoying futures far brighter than those center stage lights. Here's how each of the standouts from Abby's Junior Elite competition team are handling their lives as soloists. 

Maddie Ziegler

In the decade-plus since the Pennsylvania native pirouetted her way into our hearts as the unquestionable star of the Abby Lee Dance Company, she's jeted her way from electropop star Sia's music video darling to film actress with appearances in Sia's directorial debut Music and the 2021 West Side Story remake. 

She also released a New York Times best-selling memoir, 2017's The Maddie Diaries, judged a new crop of talent on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation and teamed with younger sister Kenzie Ziegler for their Take 20 With Maddie and Kenzie podcast. "I think we wanted to let our guards down and show something that wasn't so heavily produced," Maddie explained to E! News, "and, rather, just us having a pretty casual conversation."

For her next act, she's eyeing her own beauty empire. "I would love to do my own line one day," she said. "I think that would be so amazing and something that I've dreamt of doing forever."

Kenzie Ziegler

Fully graduated from her acro days, the singer's latest release was 2023's "Anatomy," a very personal battle detailing her relationship with her estranged father. "I definitely am stepping out of my comfort zone," she told People of the single, "and being authentic in a different way that’s not just on social media—I’m telling my story.”

And with all due respect to the nearly 15 million Dance Moms fans who follow her on Instagram, she's looking to dig a little deeper for her forthcoming third album. "I feel like this is just the first time where I can talk about things that have happened with my life and share some important things to me," she told E! News. "I just want people to take away something from it—whether that be happy, whether that be sad or that they can relate to it." 

Chloe Lukasiak

Nearly a decade after she took her final Dance Moms bow, the trophy-collecting soloist is ready to start living on the dance floor again.

“I missed dance, and I wanted to find a way to get back to something I had loved so much,” the Girl on Pointe: Chloe's Guide to Taking on the World author recently explained of launching Elevé National Dance Competition with mom Christi Lukasiak and fellow mother-daughter duo Diane and Brittany Pent. “But I wanted to help create something that was the exact opposite of what I had experienced. Something positive. I challenged myself to develop something to reignite my love of dance.”

Among the other loves of the actress’ life: Girlfriend and “pure sunshine in human formBrooklinn Khoury and the Lifetime series’ OG squad. Sharing a May 2023 get-together with Nia Sioux on Instagram, the Pepperdine University senior wrote, "One of my sisters from another mama."

Nia Sioux

The OG company member (and death drop enthusiast) continues to slay in music (she dropped her single "Low Key Love" in 2020) and acting, fronting the web series Sunnyside Up and appearing in 59 episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful

And while her day job is senior at UCLA, she moonlights in Hollywood, landing on Variety's 2023 Young Hollywood Impact Report. "I’m so honored to share that list with so many amazing individuals," she wrote on Instagram, "and it’s such a privilege to be recognized."

Brooke Hyland

Trading in group numbers for group trips, the eldest of the show's OGs recently led an excursion to Costa Rica, sharing on Instagram in July that "7 days took us from strangers to friends crying in the airport having to say goodbye to each other."

Next up, she'll oversee a six-day jaunt through Croatia inspired by the European backpacking trip she enjoyed after graduating from Ohio University. "I explored beautiful places and cultures, while making lifelong friends in the process," she shared. "It was the trip of a lifetime."

When stateside, the Pittsburgh resident makes the most of her marketing degree, both with her Bite-Sized Foodie Instagram account and the Hyland Sisters brand she shares with little sib Paige. 

Paige Hyland

The four-season vet has few tears to save for her pillow as of late. Since earning her degree from West Virginia University in May 2023 ("IM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! Congratulations," Christi Lukasiak commented on her graduation 'gram), the model and influencer has criss-crossed the country with stops in the Hamptons, Colorado and Wyoming

Her No. 1 travel buddy (other than older sis Brooke): Boyfriend of four years, former college football player Jayvon Thrift. "Adore you in every kind of way," she wrote of the fitness model in a 2022 post

Kendall Vertes

These days, the James Madison University junior is still collecting trophies as part of the Virginia college's championship-winning dance team. "Younger me would be so proud," the political science major wrote in a September Instagram. (Naturally, her dance mom Jill Vertes chimed in, "I know I’m so proud of my little kendall.")

In addition to trying her hand at acting (including the 2019 movie Rapunzel: A Princess Frozen in Time and a live-action version of Anastasia) and singing (as Kendall K, she released several albums), the season two arrival has nabbed more than a few sponsorships, thanks to her 11 million Instagram followers

JoJo Siwa

Despite appearing in just two seasons of the OG series (after a stint on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition) JoJo with a Bow Bow arguably stole the spotlight, going on to nab a massive YouTube following, an exclusive licensing deal with Nickelodeon, endless branded merchandise and a spot on Time's 100 most influential people of 2020. 

"One of the biggest things that I ever learned from Dance Moms was either to sink or swim," she once explained to Kelly Ripa. "Not, like, physically, actually in a swimming pool. But to really just be able to survive and to want it."

These days, as she pals around with the likes of Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian, she's doing more than treading water. In 2021, the LGBTQ+ icon partnered with Jenna Johnson to compete as the first same-sex couple on the U.S. version of Dancing With the Stars.

Now she's eyeing an even bigger stage, telling Raven-Symoné and wife Miranda Pearman-Maday, "My dream, dream, dream, dream is the Super Bowl, to do the halftime performance." And once she's scored that gig, she told the duo on an August episode of The Best Podcast Ever, "Then I'll retire and have babies."

Kalani Hilliker

Back home in Arizona, the dancer, actress and entrepreneur is fully embracing what she calls "my health and wellness era" with the 2023 launch of her beauty line Kare

"I struggle with anxiety," she explained to E! News of her inspiration. "And I really wanted to create a brand that was inclusive to everyone to be able to just relax and take time for yourself and have a solid self-care routine to help you get through your day."

And, yes, the season 4 arrival, who also got her start on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, is still nailing every last arabesque, having dipped her perfectly arched foot back into dancing and teaching. "I obviously have a very different teaching way than Abby does towards me. Or, honestly, most of my dance teachers," she shared. "I like to be very kind, but also you've got to push them to be the best they can be."

Asia Monet Ray

Consider Asia officially raised. Though the California native stepped away from TV cameras just before her 10th birthday—following one season each on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, Dance Moms and her own standalone series Raising Asia—"I genuinely had a great experience on it," Asia insisted to E! News in 2021, acknowledging that wasn't necessarily the case for many of her costars. "There was nothing that I would change on my experience whatsoever." 

Wrapping up her high school career in June as a valedictorian, "I’m extremely proud of myself for achieving a personal goal," the model and artist wrote on Instagram, "and I can’t wait to see what’s next." 

Thanks to a plethora of brand deals and invites to every it event, her future seems bright. As for her reality star past, "I really did enjoy the time I had out there and growing up on television," she told E!. "Even though it seems like a lot, it was something that really set me up for life that I would never take for granted."

Camryn Bridges

Since joining the team in season 7, the St. Louis native has been living on some much larger dance floors.

Between touring with Kendrick Lamar and performing in Usher’s Las Vegas residency, she took to the Grammys stage with Missy Elliott. "Beyond blessed!!!" she wrote of the February 2023 experience. 

And she plans to keep climbing her own personal pyramid. As she put it in a December 2022 Instagram marking the end of her 76-show stint with Lamar, "I know this is only the beginning."

Brynn Rumfallo

When she exited stage left after a three-season stint that saw her trying to fill Maddie's ballet shoes, the Phoenix native "wanted to go back to high school and I wanted to just be normal and have my friends," she explained in a 2023 YouTube video with best friend Kelsey Millar. "High school sucked, but I’m glad that I did it. And now that I’ve experienced  both lives, I know what I want. Which, there is a way to balance both of them in the middle." 

For the 2021 grad, that's meant launching her and Millar's Out of Line podcast and documenting her trips to Coachella and Stagecoach for her three million Instagram followers. Plus, experiencing more than a few encounters with fans when she takes her dance students to competitions. 

"It's really cute," Brynn, who remains close to Kenzie, said of one recent encounter. "They're like, 'Miss Brynn, you're famous?'"