Payton Ackerman Is Busy Without 'Dance Moms'

No matter how popular and successful it may be as a coaching tactic, Abby Lee Miller's aggressive shouting gives me sympathy stress hives, but the talent on display in Dance Moms is undeniable, and the girls who start out in her studio are all so talented that they'll be showing up in music videos and even on Broadway for the rest of time. And, while everyone may be hung up with and focused on Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler, I'm curious what happened to Dance Moms' Payton Ackerman now that she's no longer on the show.

Don't worry, she hasn't been kicked out of the ALDC — she's been absent because she recently graduated from high school. She's older than a lot of the other members of the Pittsburgh studio, and while Payton was once accused of being a bully back in her early days at the school, it certainly seems like, without the glare of the reality show cameras, Payton has a softer side. After all, she didn't join the show until she was a teenager, and was in classes with girls years younger than her, so there was bound to be some conflict. Now, it seems like she has the confidence of a post-grad of both high school and what must undoubtably be one of the toughest dance backgrounds imaginable. Here's what she's been up to while staying out of the Dance Moms drama.

1. She Celebrated Graduation

She made it through high school, and looks very excited to be finished.

2. Potentially Going Through A Long-Distance Relationship

The guy in the pic is Payton's high school boyfriend and prom date, and while there are no signs that they're still together, that's got to be a post-grad milestone, right? Ah the days of trying to make a relationship work from across the country for the summer and early fall.

3. She Went To Prom

Of course a Dance Moms vet would know the importance of arriving at a dance with your costume — uh, I mean, your prom dress — perfectly coordinated with hair, accessories, and makeup.

4. Her Last Ever Dance Recital

While Payton certainly isn't planning to stop dancing, she will finally graduate from young dance classes to ones for non-kids. So this was her final dance recital, and the experience was of course filled with emotions.

5. Moving To Los Angeles

Payton's plan has been moving to LA for years now. In an interview with Pittsburgh Magazine, Payton's mother claimed that her daughter would be a huge success on the west coast. "Payton is going to go to LA and have a name. But I worry the fight is going to hurt her," her mother said. But, so far, it seems like Payton hasn't been hurt at all, instead confidently documenting her move on Instagram with a smile.

6. She Still Supports ALDC

Albeit the fancy, new LA version.

7. Making New Dance Friends

After moving to Los Angeles, Payton of course had to find a new group of friends. And, she's been working with a group of fellow dancers who are just as good-looking (and I presume talented) as her old co-stars. Could Lifetime be looking for a Dance Moms spinoff? I have to say, ALDC: LA is looking like a viable place for a new show... And Payton Ackerman could be the perfect star.

Image: Screengrab/Lifetime