'Dance Moms' Star Maddie Ziegler Says She's 'Moving On To Cool Things'

Edward VKanty

There has been quite a bit of talk about Maddie Ziegler's departure from Dance Moms lately. The rumors have really multiplied, since word has reached the public about the possibility of Ms. Ziegler serving as a judge in the next installment of So You Think You Can Dance, but with little word from Maddie, herself. That has now changed.

Maddie Ziegler Goes Public About Her Departure From Dance Moms And Her Future Projects


Until now, Maddie hasn't said much about her plans, but now that events have been officially confirmed, the 13-year-old dancer is talking more freely about her plans. Ziegler confirms that she is leaving Dance Moms after five years on the series.

"I am leaving, but it'll be a good thing because we're moving on to cool things," Ziegler said at Saturday's Nickelodeon 2016 Kids' Choice Awards. "[So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation] is going to be so amazing. I'm looking forward to it because I feel like kids are so good these days."

While the Dance Moms performer is excited about advancing in her career, she does admit to feeling a small measure of apprehension about serving as a judge. In particular, Ms. Ziegler says she's worried about being the only child judge on So You Think You Can Dance, adding that she knows she'll have to be at peak performance at all times.

On the other hand, Maddie says she should do pretty well as a judge because she's spent so much time on the other end, trying to impress the Dance Moms judges. She also says she's really looking forward to working with fellow So You Think You Can Dance judges Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo, and Nigel Lythgoe.

Maddie Ziegler Brings Her Unique Influence To So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation


Maddie will be the only young judge on the panel, but it's her teenage outlook and her experience as a child dancer that will make the difference and shape just how So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation scores its contestants. This is important, because the series will benefit all of the contestants, each of whom is enrolled in the Abby Lee Dance Company already, in ways, beyond the prizes awarded to the winners.

Maddie says she won't be the typical judge, the type audiences are used to seeing, who tear down contestants with the straight and oftentimes brutal truth. Instead, Ms. Ziegler hopes to be more supportive, acting more like a mentor and a friend.

"I feel like since I'm in their shoes I know how to cheer them on," Ziegler said. "I feel like since I'm their age I can't really tell them what to do, [so] I think I'm gonna be the supportive judge and always [encourage] the kids."

Coming off of a five-year run on Dance Moms, Ms. Ziegler knows just how the So You Think You Can Dance dancers will feel. Maddie spent her seasons on Dance Moms working full time with dance instructor Abby Lee Milller, who she says was very professional and knowledgeable.

Ziegler reveals that competing is hectic and can be more overwhelming than scripted television. The dancer and sometimes actress says that it's important to keep oneself grounded and concentrate on the task at hand, or it can be easy to lose oneself in the moment.

There's no word on whether Ziegler will stay with So You Think You Can Dance beyond her first season, but she has said she won't be returning to Dance Moms. In view of her certainty about leaving Dance Moms in the past, it seems Maddie Ziegler either has plans to stay with So You Think You Can Dance for the long term, or she has other career goals. If so, she's keeping those future plans to herself for now.

So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation premieres May 30 on Fox.

[Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]