Wonderland.

MADDIE ZIEGLER

After a decade living out our teenage dreams in the spotlight, the dancer gets candid about finding acting through dance and what it’s like being labelled a role model.

Maddie Ziegler wearing omega watch

Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERRAFINI and watch by OMEGA.

Maddie Ziegler wearing omega watch
Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERRAFINI and watch by OMEGA.

Taken from the Spring 21 issue. Order your copy now.

When I was at school, the Year 11 farewell dance was always the highlight to four end of year show. The year before mine, it had been “Dirty Diana”: raunchy and risqué, it was a dance that screamed, ‘look at us, we’re fully grown’. My year, it was “Chandelier”. Instead of fishnets and hot pants, we were handed frumpy box-fringe wigs and unflattering beige leotards. Brilliant… And yet, from our first rehearsal, when we sat down to watch Maddie Ziegler’s solo dance freak-out in the iconic Sia music video, we all knew that this would be the perfect coming-of-age routine. Each unbridled, yet self-assured movement embodied all that we associated with growing up. That’s what Ziegler gave to a whole generation of girls and boys: the confidence to blossom into their free, authentic and imperfect selves.

So, when I get on the phone years later to the dance prodigy herself, and she begins telling me about the pivotal role “Chandelier” played in her coming-of-age story, I guess you could say it struck a chord. “As a dancer coming from a competition background, I used to be so scared of not always looking perfect and pretty,” she admits. “But as soon as I started doing choreography for Sia videos, I learnt that my imperfections can be beautiful. I’ll always have Sia to thank for that. She taught me how to express my true self and not hide behind a cover of trying to be ‘too perfect’, as both a dancer and a human. We’ve become so close — she’s like family.”

Maddie Ziegler wearing black and white dress
Maddie Ziegler wearing black and white dress

Dress by CHRISTIAN COWAN and rings by CARTIER.

Maddie Ziegler wearing black and white dress
Dress by CHRISTIAN COWAN and rings by CARTIER.
Maddie Ziegler wearing black and white dress

And now, the duo are back — but, this time, they’re using dance to push the boundaries of film. “I definitely found acting through dance,” the multi-hyphenate reflects. “That was never my goal, I was just set [on] becoming a professional dancer. But when I started doing Sia’s music videos, I realised I was heavily playing characters in each performance. Acting suddenly seemed like a natural transition. Now it’s right up there with dance — I love it.”The transition hasn’t come without its challenges, though. “Because of my dance background, I’m always scared of coming off too extra when I’m acting for screen,” Ziegler explains. “When performing on stage, you have to project all the way to people on the back row, so it’s grand and over-exaggerated. On-screen, the camera is so close that all your facial expressions and actions have to be almost internalised. They’re two different extremes! It’s something I’ve been trying to figure out.”

Maddie Ziegler wearing purple skirt and top double image
Maddie Ziegler wearing white fur jacket and heels
Maddie Ziegler wearing green dress

(LEFT) Top by AGENT PROVOCATEUR, skirt by GUESS, necklace by YVAN TUFENKJIAN, rings by CARTIER and shoes by KAT MACONIE. (MID) Dress by SEBASTIAN GUNAWEN COUTURE and shoes by JIMMY CHOO.(RIGHT) Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERADFINI, watch by OMEGA and shoes by KAT MACONIE.

Maddie Ziegler wearing purple skirt and top double image
Top by AGENT PROVOCATEUR, skirt by GUESS, necklace by YVAN TUFENKJIAN, rings by CARTIER and shoes by KAT MACONIE. (MID) Dress by SEBASTIAN GUNAWEN COUTURE and shoes by JIMMY CHOO. Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERADFINI, watch by OMEGA and shoes by KAT MACONIE.
Maddie Ziegler wearing white fur jacket and heels
Maddie Ziegler wearing green dress

Starring Ziegler in its lead role, Sia’s directorial debut Music tells the story of a young girl named Music (Ziegler), who is on the autism spectrum. Following the death of her grandmother, Music finds herself under the care of her older half-sister Zu (Kate Hudson), a free spirit and professional self-saboteur. While Ziegler is venturing into the world of film, that doesn’t mean she’s hanging up her dancing shoes — musical interludes are woven throughout the film, each giving us a colourful window into the way Music views the world.

Maddie Ziegler wearing gold dress multiple images

Dress by ANTONIO GRIMALDI, earrings by YVAN TUFENKJIAN.

Maddie Ziegler wearing gold dress multiple images
Dress by ANTONIO GRIMALDI, earrings by YVAN TUFENKJIAN.

As a bond develops between the sisters on-screen, it becomes obvious that Zu needs Music as much as Music needs Zu. The connection shared between the characters was mirrored by their actors off-screen: “Kate and I fell in love on set,” Ziegler gushes, her voice brimming with admiration. “You never know what it’s going to be like working with people you look up to, but I could not have more amazing things to say about her. In real life, as in the movie, we learned so much from each other.” It’s a relationship that continued to grow beyond the set of Music: “We still keep in touch — we were on the phone just this morning, in fact!”

This might be her first title role in a film, but Ziegler is no stranger to the limelight. Becoming an international sensation at just eight years old on the reality TV show Dance Moms and going on to release a New York Times-best-selling memoir, The Maddie Diaries, Ziegler has often been labelled a ‘role model’. How is the teenage star dealing with the inevitable pressure of such a title? “It’s such an honour, and it means more than anyone would know that people look up to me,” she enthuses, before adding a little more wearily: “But at the same time… It’s super scary. I have literally gone through puberty on screen and I’m bound to make mistakes. I try to keep that in the back of my mind: ‘It’s OK if you slip up, Maddie, you’re only human’. It’s a learning process, and I just hope people can understand that.”

Maddie Ziegler wearing pink and blue headpiece and black bodysuit
Maddie Ziegler wearing red sparkling dress

(LEFT) Dress by DSQUARED2, hat and gloves by LILLIAN SHALOM. (RIGHT) Dress by CONG TRI, shoes by FLOR DE MARIA and ring by CARTIER.

Maddie Ziegler wearing pink and blue headpiece and black bodysuit
Dress by DSQUARED2, hat and gloves by LILLIAN SHALOM. Dress by CONG TRI, shoes by FLOR DE MARIA and ring by CARTIER.
Maddie Ziegler wearing red sparkling dress

At this moment a yappy dog, aching for attention from his mum, interrupts our conversation from inside Ziegler’s flat. “Sorry!” she squeals, “That’s my puppy. I rescued him last year — it’s been a lot of responsibility taking care of an animal. He’s my best friend, but he’s so demanding!” It’s a gentle reminder that while Ziegler might have perforated the public consciousness as a child star, she’s growing up just as fast.

Maddie Ziegler wearing omega watch and green dress
Maddie Ziegler close up multi-coloured eye-shadow

(LEFT) Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERADFINI, watch by OMEGA and shoes by KAT MACONIE. (RIGHT) Dress by CHRISTIAN COWAN and rings by CARTIER.

Maddie Ziegler wearing omega watch and green dress
Dress by PHILOSOPHY DI LORRENZO SERADFINI, watch by OMEGA and shoes by KAT MACONIE. Dress by CHRISTIAN COWAN and rings by CARTIER.
Maddie Ziegler close up multi-coloured eye-shadow
Photography
Thom Kerr
Fashion
Gorge Villalpando
Words
Anya Cooper
Hair
Clayton Hawkins at A-Frame Agency
Makeup
Tonya Brewer at Dew Beauty Agency
Nails
Thuy Nguyen at A-Frame Agency
Editorial Director
Huw Gwyther
Cover Design
Olivia Woodgate
MADDIE ZIEGLER
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