Maddie Ziegler seemed to be living the dream while dancing for Abby Lee Miller's junior elite competition team on Dance Moms – but her experience at the ALDC was actually a nightmare! Ziegler revealed in her explosive tell-all book the truth behind her time at the studio.
In Zielger's book The Maddie Diaries: A Memoir, she explained the pressure of being the team leader and Miller's go-to dancer.
"I did a lot of crying in those early competitions," Ziegler, 14, wrote. "My nerves were really bad because I felt so much was riding on every single number we performed. If you watch me in the wings, you'll always see me biting my nails. I put a lot of pressure on myself, I didn't want to disappoint anyone – my teachers, my teammates, my mom, our audience."
Ziegler claims that she was even forced to perform while sick.
"There were many, many times I had to push through and compete, even if I was feeling sick," she penned. "I remember I once had bronchitis and I could barely breathe without coughing, but I had a solo and a group number to get through. I literally had to hold my breathe through the numbers so I wouldn't start a coughing fit."
Ziegler explains that she thought joining Miller's competition team would be "awesome," but the harsh reality kicked in as the years went on.
"As I got older, the competitions got much more intense," she wrote. "The fierce competitive side of all this was something I never saw coming… Things can and do get ugly sometimes because people don't behave like good sports. Sometimes people go a little crazy."
After spending "hundreds and hundreds of hours" in the studio, Ziegler has come out of the experience "a different person."
"This Maddie has much more confidence and doesn't need a title to feel good about herself," Ziegler said.
Ziegler was Miller's favorite on the show, as she was often given solos, the lead in group dances and expected to take home first at every competition. Miller's favoritism of Ziegler caused drama with other students and their mothers.
As Radar previously reported, Ziegler snubbed Miller by not mentioning her in the book. She also bashed the show by revealing that she has only watched one entire episode.
"I was eight years old at the time, and there were cameramen following me around everywhere I went," Ziegler penned. "I would just ignore them and go about my business. Eventually, you feel a little exposed because you're on all the time. Your life is what the show is about, but you're also trying to live it. I just wanted to dance; I didn't want all the drama."
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