Maddie Ziegler performing with Sia at Panorama Festival.



In Praise Of Maddie Ziegler, Panorama Fest's Brightest Star

At the Panorama Festival this weekend, there were a lot of amazing acts and artists and free drinks in the VIP. It was all-around quite glorious, and we’re already pumped for next year. But one performer in particular stole the show, and we are not referring to Blood Orange or Kendrick Lamar or even the much-lauded return of LCD Soundsystem. Thirteen year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler was the best performer we saw. By far. Holy shit, we loved her.

Ziegler became a star after her appearances on the unapologetic guilty pleasure Dance Moms. Eventually, Sia tapped her as a muse of sorts; Ziegler danced her heart out in the music video for “Chandelier,” and the clip became an inescapable sensation. She later starred in more Sia videos, dancing in “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Cheap Thrills,” and courting idiotic controversy with Shia LaBeouf in the gorgeous “Elastic Heart.”

Sia is notoriously performance-shy, and at Panorama she did her usual thing; the artist stood in the corner, her face covered by a massive wig, singing her bombastic, epic music. Sia doesn’t dance; she doesn’t move, even. She just lets her powerful pipes do the talking. Figuratively, she shuts up and plays the hits, and Ziegler gets the attention.

And she deserves it. Ziegler dances, expressing the emotions the singer herself is loathe to do in any way outside of singing. Her movements are frenetic, wild, seemingly out of control. She’s an undeniable prodigy, but she’s no stiff, ballerina stereotype. The way she moves, like a spinning top that’s gone off the deep end, feels like an expression of Sia’s id, a feral inner child (forgive me, but it’s true!). She makes insane faces, pulling the inside of her mouth with fish hook-like fingers. Ziegler’s work is honest, emotional, crazy, gorgeous. It made me cry, and I am not ashamed.

Stay tuned to Milk for more teenage dance stars.

Photo via Billboard.

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