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Maddie Ziegler, AnOther Magazine S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

Maddie Ziegler: “Being Quirky is the Best”

Maddie Ziegler shot to fame when Sia cast her in the video for Chandelier. The young dancer talks about their collaborations and writing her memoirs with Jack Sunnucks, alongside exclusive imagery from AnOther Magazine S/S17

Lead ImageMaddie Ziegler, AnOther Magazine S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

In celebration of the new generation of actresses determined to leverage their fame for the greater good, Ben Toms and Robbie Spencer’s fashion story, published in AnOther Magazine S/S17, featured young women from Rowan Blanchard to India Menuez; Sophie Kennedy Clark to Maddie Ziegler. Writer Jack Sunnucks spoke to each of these women on set, for a series of interviews running over two weeks exclusively on

Maddie Ziegler first pierced the public consciousness appearing on the TV series Dance Moms, in which vaguely maniacal mothers lived vicariously through their tap dancing daughters. But her next move was altogether more unexpected: a long running collaboration with the pop star Sia and her choreographer Ryan Heffington, which has seen the young dancer contort herself into all manner of moves in the singer’s videos and on tour. Ziegler dances with both childlike abandon and an almost otherworldly grace, and has given the mysteriously bewigged star’s live performances an explosive charm. Ziegler has just returned from touring with Sia, and somehow managed to find the time to give her voice to an animated feature and design her own clothing line. She travels with her mother, who is also totally brilliant.

Jack Sunnucks: Who is your hero? Do you have one?
Maddie Ziegler:
I know I talk about her a lot, but Sia, because she changed my life. So probably her.

JS: When you first started working with her, what was your first impression like?
MZ: I didn’t really know who she was, I didn’t know of her that well before I worked with her. So I didn’t really know walking in if I would be with her, or just a back up in her video. When I met her we ran up to each other and had a huge hug, straight away. I was like: “I hope I’m not hugging too hard!” I was 11 at the time. The first time she saw the rehearsal for the Chandelier video, she started crying and I was like, “Am I just gonna be in the background or whatever?” She was like: “No, no, no, it’s just you.” I was freaking out, it was so cool.

JS: It sounds like that’s a substantial working relationship and friendship.
MZ: Oh yeah, we clicked. Even on the first day – and ever since then, we’ve kind of done everything together. We’ve been on tour, and I’ve done three or four other videos with her.

JS: And a bunch of performances! They always get so much attention because they’re so different to anything else that’s happening. Is there a person who first inspired you to dance?
MZ: My mom put me in dance class when I was two years old. I didn’t really know what I was getting into because I was only two and I don’t really remember. My mom just wanted to see me in a tutu – she wanted to see what I would look like. As I got older there were people who sort of inspired me to dance... there are so many people. Misty Copeland, even though she is a ballerina. And now, the dancers in Sia’s group – they are all inspiring. They are older than me, so they are incredible and I totally look up to them.

JS: Is there a role you’d love to play, or someone that you would really like to dance for? Or a piece you would like to create?
MZ: I’m not sure. I’ve always wondered if, when I’m older, I’ll be able to create something on my own. That would be cool, I should start thinking of something. Recently, I’ve not been caring what people think about me. When I first started doing stuff with Sia, I’d never made those crazy faces before – it was always like, be pretty and make sure you look good with a lot of make-up on. But I’ve learned that being yourself and being quirky is the best. Now I definitely like to do stuff like that more, and I’m not afraid to make ugly faces in front of a crowd.

“I’ve learned that being yourself and being quirky is the best” – Maddie Ziegler

JS: What’s your favourite song to dance to when you are with your friends and not working?
MZ: I kind of listen to every type of music. Right now, Rihanna. I love her new album. We always blast it out in the car, me and my friends. That’s our favourite.

JS: What are you working on at the moment?
MZ: I’ve been doing a lot with my clothing line lately and I have a book that is coming out. I’ve just been looking over stuff and making sure I like everything!

JS: What is your book about? Can you say?
MZ: It’s called Maddie’s Diaries and it’s really exciting because it’s just a memoir of my life. I never thought that I would write a book – it’s hard but it’s really fun. I do have someone helping me, which is great, but everything in that book has come from me.

JS: If you could say one thing to women and girls your age, what would it be?
MZ: Don’t be afraid of who you are, and don’t let other girls bring you down or tell you who to be or what to wear. It’s very important to stay true to yourself.

JS: What’s your favourite film?
MZ: I have so many! But recently, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. When we went on tour, Sia took a bunch of us to see it – we were in Arizona or somewhere. At first I was like: “This is gonna be so weird,” but I loved it!

JS: What it is like being on tour?
MZ: Our tour was kind of short but it was the best experience; the best thing I have done in my entire life. It’s like having a huge family, so it was the hardest goodbye for us. I was excited to see my family and my friends and have a break for a little bit but, at the same time, I didn’t want it to end. We had such a great time. Dancing in front of so many people was a rush, it didn’t really feel real until after. Every show I took like 40 polaroids, and now I’m gonna hang them all on my wall. 

JS: You should make a book of that!
MZ: I should! That’s awesome! That would be really cool.

Hair Marki Shkreli for Marki Hair Care; Make-up Samuel Paul at Forward Artists for Marc Jacobs Beauty; Set design Bryn Bowen at Streeters; Photographic assistants Vincent Perini, Geordy Pearson and Kaleb Marshall; Styling assistants Louise Ford, Johanna Burmester-Andersson, Bonnie Macleod and Sabrina Terlink; Hair assistant Kelly Oliphant.

These photographs originally appeared in AnOther Magazine S/S17.