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Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller Fires Back After Maddie Ziegler Calls Reality Show Toxic: ‘I Know What I Did’ for Her

Abby Lee Miller Reflects Dance Moms After Maddie Toxic Comments
Abby Lee Miller and Maddie Ziegler. Matt Baron/Shutterstock; David Fisher/Shutterstock

They’re not leaving it on the dance floor. Abby Lee Miller is weighing in after former Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler claimed the reality show was a “toxic” environment.

Related: Dance Moms' Most Memorable Stars: Where Are They Now?

“What I don’t understand [about] the pressure, the ‘toxic’ situation — if it was so toxic, why did you keep doing it?” the former Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition judge, 56, retorted in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday, June 15. “I had to [and] I tried to quit many a time and I was forced to come back to set because I signed a contract.”

Miller added: “Newsflash: the kids in the original cast never had a contract. The moms had a contract, but the kids, well … they were just kind of there on a handshake. I thought [Maddie] wanted to be there. If she said, ‘I don’t want to go, I’m not going,’ kicking and screaming, stomping her feet, I’m sure her mother wouldn’t have brought her — or she would have come and talked to me about it. She never did that.”

Related: Shocking Reality TV Exits

The Abby Lee Dance Company founder defended her coaching style days after Ziegler, 19, reflected on her Dance Moms days during a Cosmopolitan interview.

[Abby] was distraught [when I left]. For the longest time, we felt so guilty,” the Fallout star claimed earlier this month. “She trained me, she helped me, but also, I knew I would be OK without her and I was sick of being in a toxic environment. I was like, ‘This is not for me. I can’t do this.’ I haven’t spoken to her since. I feel at peace.”

The reality TV series — which ran for eight seasons on Lifetime — premiered in 2011, showcasing the weekly schedule of the ALDC’s junior elite competition team and the lengths their mothers went to get them to the top of the pyramid. The team originally consisted of Ziegler and her younger sister, Mackenzie Ziegler, as well as Nia Sioux, Chloe Lukasiak, Brooke Hyland and Paige Hyland.

After six seasons of dancing on the show, Maddie and Mackenzie, now 18, left Dance Moms in December 2015, as did their mother, Melissa Gisoni. Their tumultuous exit was caught on camera — with Miller locking herself in an office and weeping. The family has since been candid about where they stand with Miller.

Related: Stars Who Got Their Start on Reality TV

“We don’t keep in contact,” the West Side Story actress exclusively told Us Weekly in June 2018 of her former teacher. “But I wish her the best.”

The Abby’s Studio Rescue alum further alleged in her YouTube video on Wednesday — which Maddie has yet to publicly address — that her former student felt “at home” at the ALDC studio, which was “where everybody knew her name” before she became a star.

“I was fighting for everything, for these kids to be the best that they could be on television,” Miller said, calling Maddie a “kid that I loved” and alleging that she was responsible for the former So You Think You Can Dance judge’s frequent collaborations with Sia. “I know that what I did for Maddie, with Maddie, helped her succeed.”

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