Although Maddie Ziegler was last seen on Dance Moms in May, it seems like her trip to the judge's seat on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation has been a long time coming. Maddie joined So You Think You Can Dance as a judge during the first live show on Monday, July 11 and while she had helped out during Academy week, it was the first time fans got to see her give feedback alongside Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, and Jason Derulo. Maddie complimented her fellow young dancers as they performed for a live audience with their All-Stars, as well as shadowed their first rehearsals to give more insight into what it's like for a young dancer on the show.
While Dance Moms gave her TV fame since she was Abby Lee Miller's prized dancer for six seasons, Maddie launched into super stardom thanks to her partnership with musical artist Sia. And just as Sia has been a mentor to her, Maddie gets to give advice and be more than just a judge on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation. While traditionally the judges are never in the rehearsal space with the competing dancers as they learn choreography, Maddie watched each of the top 10 Next Generation dancers during their rehearsals. Considering Maddie's close age to the dancers, it appears she won't have to be — and doesn't want to be — the one giving harsh critiques, telling Vulture, "I want them to see me as a mentor, as someone they can relate to without being scared and thinking, 'Oh no, she'll get mad at me and tell me I was awful.'"
Luckily, criticisms were few and far between during So You Think You Can Dance's July 11 episode — a combination of probably a gentler approach by the judges because of the competitors' ages (ranging from 8 to 14) and because these kids were really that good. Although I anticipate the cuts getting harder and the feedback getting stronger once the audience starts voting young dancers off, Maddie knows a thing or two about the competition lifestyle, so she'll be a good person to have around to offer encouraging words. And when the winner is announced, she'll also be able to relate because if anyone knows something about being a wunderkind and finding massive success as a young dancer, it's most certainly Maddie.
Image: Adam Rose/FOX