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History of The Little Dance Studio

Present, Past & Future


Amanda Fuhrman Rodriguez, as of June 3rd, 2013, is the new Director/Owner of The Little Dance Studio now named Little Dance Studio Inc. (LDS). Amanda has been dancing since she was 2 years old. She started Dancing at LDS when she was 6 years old under the instruction of Catherine and Sandra Little. She became a classroom assistant at the age of 12 and a Teacher at the age of 16. Amanda was asked to be a member of Sandra Little's "Junior Jazz Kids" when she was 8 and further progressed into "Jazz Kids". 


Amanda was a Competitive Dancer and Cheerleader for 8 years, and Competitive Dance Team Coach for 6 years. She was a member of the McDowell CPA Dance program and on McDowell High School's Dance Team for 4 years (Captain for 1 year). Over the course of her career, Amanda has studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Bollywood, and Pointe.


With a lifetime of Dance experience, she will bring her entire focus, creativity and passion for Dance to the LDS family and to our current and future students. She plans to bring new ideas to Little's while carrying on the legacy of The Luigi Technique that our founders instilled in her from a very young age. She looks forward to meeting each student and family member that walk through our doors, as the family atmosphere at Little's will forever be our foundation. Without our talented faculty and thriving students, we would not be the success we are today.


The Little Dance Studio is proud to still be one of the third oldest Dance Studios in the United States. The school founded by Catherine Little in 1926 continues to thrive in downtown Erie at their location in Plaza 9.

Sandra Little Barnett, began dancing with her mother, the late Catherine Little, at the age of two.  She continued her studies in New York City with distinguished teachers such as Luigi, Matt Mattox, Frank Hatchett, Charles Weidman, Alonso Castro, Eric Hawkins, Billy Mahoney and Chuck Kelly. She choreographed for television, stage shows and local events.  In 1978 she founded The Little Dance Studio Concert Group which later developed into “Jazz Kids Dance Company”.


Many accomplished students owe their credit to Sandra. Seven of her Dancers were awarded the Governor’s School For The Arts Award, Twenty-Seven members of the National Honor Society For Dance Arts, and one merit award winner through the National Dance Education Organization.  Sandra was a sponsor for Chapter 101 in Pennsylvania for the National Honor Society For Dance Arts. She taught for the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists Seminars in New York City, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Orleans. She held a certificate in anatomy for ballet teachers from the Royal Academy of Dance, London, England.


Sandra Little Barnett passed away in October 2012, and will always be missed by all "Little" alumni.


Catherine Little, founder of the Little Dance Studio, began her dance training at 8, studying tap, ballet and eccentric dancing from the Sawyer sisters at Castles Dance Studio on French Street. At the age of 14 she began her teacher’s training at the Ned Wayburn School in New York City, where students were required to study all dance disciplines.

By the time she was 15 “Cassie” began teaching students in the music room of her parents home, with encouragement from her mother Dovera. Every summer was spent studying in New York.
While attending Lucille Stoddard’s Dance Congress, she was chosen by the famous Bill “Bo Jangles” Robinson from more than 200 students to be his protégé.  She also studied with greats such as Ernest Carlos, Jack Manning, Peter Gennaro, Charlie Morrison, Charlie Lowe, Gene Kelly and Katherine Dunham. While in New York, Catherine danced at the Palace Theatre and appeared in Cleveland for the premiere of the first talking movie. She traveled the RKO circuit and danced throughout the United States for the U.S.O. 

Having a great love for children, she began to specialize in teaching very young pre-schoolers.  She saw the need for Pre-School training and realized how important it was for a child’s development and health.

Taking her work with children a step further to include special needs children, she attended special classes at the University of Dayton to learn to work specifically with these children.

Catherine believed that a child’s dance beginning is most important to guide them in achieving success. Generations of children have had their “dance beginnings" at the Little Dance Studio. 

Catherine Little passed away in 2003 but her legacy lives on in her school now under the direction of Amanda Fuhrman Rodriguez.

in their footsteps
you can only hope to dance
You can't replace a legend
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