‘Dance Moms’: Kenzie Ziegler’s Mom Revealed the Show ‘Crushed Her Spirit’ and she ‘Hated Dance’

Kenzie Ziegler was only six years old when she was cast in the hit Lifetime reality TV show, Dance Moms. The youngest member of the Abby Lee Dance Company Junior Elite Competition Team, Ziegler stole the hearts of fans with her sweet demeanor and entertaining performances. But while Dance Moms gave Ziegler a platform to launch her career in music, her time on the show wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.

Former Dance Moms cast members Maddie Ziegler, Kenzie Ziegler, and Melissa Gisoni
Maddie Ziegler, Kenzie Ziegler, and Melissa Gisoni | Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Any fan of Dance Moms knows that the cast of dancers had a tremendous amount of pressure placed on them. Abby Lee Miller (the studio owner and dance teacher) expected excellence from her dancers and often utilized very polarizing teaching methods to achieve results. Miller has developed a reputation for belittling her dancers and insulting everything from their dancing abilities to their intelligence. This, naturally, had an effect on the cast of the show. In fact, the Zieglers left Dance Moms in Season 6 because they no longer wanted to deal with the stress of it all.

‘Dance Moms’ alum Melissa Gisoni says the show crushed her daughter’s spirit

Recently Ziegler’s mother, Melissa Gisoni, was on an episode of Whine Down with Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin and she reflected on her daughter’s experience on Dance Moms. While the Pittsburgh native revealed that she was grateful for the platform and the opportunities that the show provided her girls with, it also was damaging for Ziegler’s self-esteem.

“Well for my kids, I appreciate the opportunity that they had absolutely,” Gisoni shared about Dance Moms. “It crushed Mackenzie’s spirit for years.” In fact, the show was so hard on her daughter, that it caused her to develop a hatred for dance. “But my Mackenzie…definitely her spirit was — she hated dance. Hated it. She had no self-esteem um but her sister really helped her through that.”

Maddie Ziegler helped her sister, Kenzie Ziegler, regain her confidence

Gisoni continued on to share that her oldest daughter, Maddie Ziegler, was the one who helped Kenzie regain her confidence. She also added that other members of the Dance Moms cast had a hand in boosting Kenzie up. Nia Sioux, for example, is really close to both of her daughters and they are constantly showing one another love and support.


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Though Dance Moms may have been hard on the Ziegler girls, Gisoni reveals that these days Kenzie is doing great. However, it took the “Donuts” singer a long time to feel comfortable in her own skin. “Mackenzie just had her spirit crushed and now she has so much confidence,” Gisoni assured the podcast hosts. “It took her years but she’s great. She’s a tough, tough, kid.”

Kenzie has since rediscovered her passion for dance

We’re glad that Kenzie has been able to bounce back from some of the damage that Dance Moms caused her. She seems to have rediscovered her passion for dance as she competed on Dancing with the Stars: Juniors in 2018 and came in second place. These days, Kenzie can be found pursuing her career in music and entertaining her millions of fans on TikTok and Instagram. We wish her nothing but success going forward.