Nia Sioux may only be 19 years old, but she's already built a reputation as a dancer, singer, actress, and influencer. On Feb. 1, she added another title to her already-impressive résumé: published author. In her first book, Today I Dance, Sioux recounts how she fell in love with dance for the first time. When she was a kid, Sioux loved the hobby so much, she pursued it professionally and ended up landing a role on Lifetime's reality series Dance Moms in 2011. Unfortunately, Nia Sioux's love of dance changed because of Dance Moms, not only because it started to feel like work, but also because of the unfair treatment she received as the only Black dancer on the show for a majority of its run.
"When I first stepped foot in the dance studio, there was so much joy. I was so happy. You could just do whatever you want," Sioux tells Elite Daily. "When you get to a certain age, you start to doubt yourself. You can have a mean dance teacher, or you can feel like dance is more work or a job and not as fun anymore."
Although Sioux didn't explicitly mention a teacher by name, her former Dance Moms instructor Abby Lee Miller has received criticism for making offensive remarks toward Sioux and other Black dancers. After Adriana Smith (dancer Kamryn Smith's mom) accused her of racist behavior, Miller issued a public apology in a June 2020 Instagram post. Still, that doesn't change how her words impacted Sioux and her castmates. "It was really hurtful to hear some things that my dance teacher would say sometimes," Sioux says. "I lost my passion for [dance] a little because [the environment] was just so negative."
Despite everything she went through, Sioux stayed on the show for seven seasons for a pretty important reason. "Honestly, whenever [my dance teacher] said those things, it only made me want to stay because I knew my place. I knew that I belonged there and I wasn't going anywhere just because someone didn't like me," Sioux says.
Thankfully, she had her mother, Holly Frazier, to support her. "[My mom] is literally my biggest cheerleader throughout everything. No matter if it's dance, music, school, work, she's always there for me," Sioux explains. "I remember her taking me to dance class and being there at my dance competitions and always rooting for me even though other people weren't."
After she left Dance Moms, Sioux took a year off from dancing to rediscover that same passion she once had as a kid. "I definitely needed time to just settle down and really get my head right and figure out where I was because I was on a TV show for seven years," Sioux says.
It didn't take long for her to miss dancing once she didn't have to please anyone else. "I just dance for myself and nobody else. I dance for fun and that's honestly what it's all about," she says.
Sioux wanted to capture those feelings by creating Today I Dance. "Doing a picture book helps bring out how much joy you have whenever you're experiencing dance for the first time," Sioux says. "I wanted to capture that moment when you first step into the dance studio and you put on your tap shoes or your ballet shoes and you just feel the music and you dance for fun."
Today I Dance was supposed to drop in 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sioux had to wait a little longer to share her project. "I was really looking forward last year to doing a book tour and meeting so many people because I miss that," Sioux says.
Although she can't do a typical book signing in person, Sioux looks forward to virtual events, like the VidConNow AMA series on Wednesday, Feb. 10, where she and fans who've followed her from day one will chat about anything and everything. Aside from AMAs, Sioux is keeping in touch with her 13 million followers across her social media profiles as much as she can. "We need to make up for lost time," Sioux says.
Today I Dance is now available for purchase on her website.