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Maddie Ziegler Reveals Why She Hasn't Spoken to Abby Lee Miller in Years

"I feel at peace," the 19-year-old Dance Moms star says now.

When she was only eight years old, Maddie Ziegler began starring on the reality show Dance Moms, alongside her mother Melissa Gisoni, her younger sister Kenzie Ziegler, and a whole group of other mothers and their dancer children. The series was centered around the Abby Lee Dance Company, which was founded by Abby Lee Miller, a dance instructor with a big personality who often got into fights with the mothers, yelled at the children, and egged on rivalries among all of them.

Now, Ziegler is 19, and it has been six years since she left Dance Moms behind. Recently, the young star has been acting more frequently, appearing in the 2021 movies The Fallout and West Side Story. She's also known for her collaborations with the singer Sia, most notably starring in her music video for "Chandelier."

In a new interview with Cosmopolitan, Ziegler shared why she no longer speaks to her former teacher and why she doesn't plan to in the future, either. Read on to see what the dancer and actor had to say about the "toxic environment" that was Dance Moms.

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Ziegler and her family wanted to leave Dance Moms earlier.

Abby Lee Miller, Maddie Ziegler, and Kenzie Ziegler at the 2014 Industry Dance Awards
Vincent Sandoval/WireImage via Getty Images

Ziegler told Cosmo that she and her family were ready to leave the show for years before they actually did.

"It is hard when you're really loyal to your dance group," Ziegler said. "I was the most loyal girl there; I just wanted to dance. And I loved competing until it became televised and the drama started. Don't get me wrong—there's drama regardless if there are cameras or not! But it was heightened. I started to feel like, It's so peaceful outside of this world. I can't be in this. My family and I really tried to leave for the last three seasons. But when you're in a contract, it's really hard. Eventually, I finally got out."

She feels "at peace" now that she's far away from the situation.

Maddie Ziegler at the 2022 Oscars
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Ziegler said that Miller was "distraught" when she left the dance company and the show, which was documented for the series. "For the longest time, we felt so guilty," the dancer explained. "She trained me, she helped me, but also, I knew I would be okay without her and I was sick of being in a toxic environment. I was like, 'This is not for me. I can't do this.' I haven't spoken to her since."

According to Cosmopolitan, Ziegler has no plans to speak to Miller ever again. "I feel at peace," she said of the dissolution of their relationship.

She hasn't watched the show as an adult.

Maddie Ziegler at the premiere of "Space Jam: A New Legacy" in 2021
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Ziegler told Cosmopolitan that she tried to watch some Dance Moms once, so that she could show her boyfriend what she was like as a kid.

"I did watch a little bit of an episode from the very beginning to show my boyfriend because I was like, 'You cannot watch this, but I'll show you what I looked like,'" she said. "And we both were like, 'This is sad. We need to turn this off.'"

The dancer also explained that she's had to "unlearn" some of what she was taught by Miller. "My dance teacher taught that if you don't get the trophy, if you don't get the crown, you are less than," she said, "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."

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She has said she's less stressed now than she was when she was 11.

Kenzie Ziegler, Melissa Gisoni, and Maddie Ziegler at Ending Youth Homelessness: A Benefit for My Friend's Place in 2019
Eugene Powers / Shutterstock

In a 2017 People interview, Ziegler said that she was happy to put the Dance Moms phase of her life behind her. While she admitted that she learned a lot from Miller, she added, "I feel like now, I've never been happier in my life. And I'm not stressed at all, which is crazy. I was stressed at 11 years old, which shouldn't happen."

Two years later, Ziegler was asked by Us Weekly if she was in touch with Miller amid the instructor's diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "We don't keep in contact," the teen said. "But I wish her the best."

Miller thinks she's not getting enough credit for Ziegler's success.

Abby Lee Miller at the "America's Got Talent" semi-finals in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

Miller—who has been embroiled in legal issues and served prison time for bankruptcy fraud—has also spoken publicly about her former relationship with Ziegler. On the TV special Dance Moms: Abby Lee Tells All in 2017, Miller said that she was "disappointed" that she isn't sharing in Ziegler's success.

"I don't think had she not been in my studio, she would be where she is today," Miller said (via Us Weekly). "And I can confidently say that. I'm not gonna say that I 'made' anybody, I didn't make her, her mom and dad created her, but I certainly added my two cents in … I hope that she doesn't forget the good times cause there were a lot more good times than bad times."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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