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Alumni Spotlight: Leslie Birnbaum


Co-Founder and CEO of Little Dancer, Leslie Birnbaum has been dancing through life before, during, and after LAMusArt.

Leslie is an East LA native doing big things as a philanthropic entrepreneur. She started at LAMusArt as a ballet student when she was ten years old and continued with dance classes for nearly four years. She later went on to study art and etiquette courses at LAMusArt before attending Los Angeles High School for the Arts.

“[LAMusArt] gave me a backbone I didn’t know I had. The confidence I didn’t know how to tap into. That dance studio allowed me to quiet the outside world and focus on the power of me. I remember the time spent there with my siblings, all five of my brothers and sisters and I attended the school for dance, music, and art. The walks from our house there, the teachers who saw us as individuals, not just the Lopez clan. ”

Leslie’s passion for the arts continued into her secondary education. She attended State University of New York Purchase and graduated with a degree in Dance, with an emphasis on Modern Dance and Choreography. Upon graduating, Leslie spent several years performing in NYC before transitioning into the restaurant sector for the following twenty years where she worked in various capacities of hospitality industry for legendary Michelin starred chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller.

In 2009, Leslie returned to Los Angeles while working for Keller. Eight short years later, she started Little Dancer, an e-commerce athleisure line for young girls, with her sister Lilia who serves as the line’s Creative Director. Little Dancer boasts dance-inspired activewear for  girls sizes 2 – 8, made in Los Angeles with beautiful  combinations of soft, breathable cottons, jerseys and traditional tulles.

“We want to inspire young ladies to move their bodies, any way they can, as long as they do.”

Today, Leslie remains an advocate for the arts and an artist in her own right. She sits on the board for the California State Summer School for the Arts and is a member of the Geffen Theater, RedCat and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. She also practices flamenco on a weekly basis.

Little Dancer is not only Leslie’s business, but a means to give back to the community that shaped her and her siblings.  In fact, members of the new generation like her nieces and nephew have kept the family tradition of attending LAMusArt alive. They all took classes at the school within the past five years.

“My parents still live in that same house in East LA. Our parents have always looked out for our community. It’s all I know. We didn’t have much, they found a way to stretch every penny. They’re good people. They showed us to do good onto others as you would have them do unto you. They’re my inspiration.”

Leslie now lives in the Arts District and is married to entertainment industry veteran, Roger Birnbaum.

For more information in Little Dancer, visit or follow them on social media.


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