|Maddie Ziegler stars in the video for "Big Girls Cry" by Sia|
Madison "Maddie" Ziegler, the 12-year-old phenom from reality TV show Dance Moms (Lifetime), is arguably the most famous dancer in the world right now, having starred in a trilogy of videos by pop chanteuse Sia: "Chandelier," "Elastic Heart," and the newly-released "Big Girls Cry," in which she runs through facial expressions and a mesmerizing, manic hand jive. In all three videos, directed by Sia and Daniel Askill and choreographed by Ryan Heffington, Maddie plays a young Sia while wearing the now-iconic costume of nude-colored leotard and platinum bob wig. With Sia's soaring vocals and Maddie's preternatural talent and lack of self-consciousness, they are an unforgettable duo.
As the story goes, singer-songwriter Sia Furler ("Breathe Me," "Titanium," "Diamonds") saw Maddie performing on Dance Moms, was impressed, and contacted the then 11-year-old prodigy via Twitter. Two weeks later, Maddie, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, was on her way to LA to shoot the video for Sia's "Chandelier." Maddie is the sole performer in the piece, which is about alcoholism, and in it she does a quirky, jerky dance in a sparsely furnished apartment.
The "Chandelier" video, released in May 2014, took the internet by storm (at the time of this writing it has close to 643 million views on YouTube) and Maddie became an international celebrity. Live performances of "Chandelier" followed, with Maddie recreating the dance while Sia, who is famously camera shy, sings with her back to the audience. There were television appearances including The Ellen Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Saturday Night Live, and honors including the MTV Video Music Awards ("Chandelier" won Best Choreography) and the Grammy Awards (it was nominated in four categories). At the Grammys, Maddie and Sia walked the red carpet in identical Armani suits, and later performed the song with actress Kristen Wiig. There were also numerous print interviews and articles, among them a fashion spread for Elle magazine, and Maddie's role as Elle.com's official correspondent at New York Fashion Week.
The second video, released in January 2015, was for "Elastic Heart." In it, Maddie portrays a wolf and she and actor Shia LaBeouf dance/fight inside of a giant cage; both of them represent aspects of Sia's personality. While some viewers praised the video for its artistic value, others saw it as sexual and were outraged to see a young girl dancing with an older male. As a result, Sia issued an apology to those "who felt triggered" by the video. Regardless of your perception of the video, Ziegler was undeniably spectacular in it.
On April 2, 2015, a third Sia video starring Maddie was released, this one for the song "Big Girls Cry." It's a stark piece with Maddie mostly in close-up in front of a black background. Instead of dancing, the pretty pre-teen portrays a breakdown with a series of hand motions and facial expressions. Throughout the video we only see her feet twice: first when she pulls her foot to her face, and again when a pair of disembodied hands grab her face from behind and lift her off the floor. It is a tense moment, as we see only her feet, dangling, as she struggles to break free. It's a relief when she drops to the floor and the "dance" continues.
That Maddie conveys the "Big Girls Cry" choreography with facial movements is a testament to her ability as a dancer and actress, and is surely a delight for "Maddie Face" fans. For the uninitiated, on Dance Moms (2011 to present), teacher Abby Lee Miller frequently tells her students to work on their "Maddie Face," as she considers her the queen of facial expressions. Now with the release of "Big Girls Cry," there is no disputing that fact.
To see our coverage of Maddie Ziegler on Dance Moms, click here.
For more info about Maddie's upcoming appearances visit Ziegler-Girls.com; it's the website she shares with her younger sister Mackenzie Ziegler, her co-star on Dance Moms who is also known as iTunes star "Mack Z."
Posted on Friday, April 3, 2015