As our industry evolves and shifts, Eric Little stays right in step. With more than 750 national titles and 62 Worlds medals under his belt, Eric Little has cemented himself as one of the industry’s premier choreographers—earning him the USASF’s first-ever “Choreographer of the Year” honor in 2011. Along with all-star programs, Little works with an array of collegiate, NFL and NBA cheer and dance teams, a natural progression for this one-time Riverside Community College and Long Beach State University cheerleader. He was also the choreographer for Bring It On: All or Nothing—an accomplishment that would make any “cheer-tator” envious.
True to form, this busy choreographer is always on the road working, traveling “non-stop” from June until February, but we managed to pin the always outspoken Little down for a one-on-one Q&A:
CP: Our industry is in a state of transition. How has your own job changed in the last five years?
Little: The trend is definitely toward less dance. Instead of routines including 10 to 12 eight-counts of dance, only four or five are included. With that [development], I have had to adjust my rates from $2,000 to $1,000.
CP: How has all-star cheerleading in general evolved in your view?
Little: As far as evolution in teams goes, I think the kids have gotten incredibly good. But the downfall lies with the changing of some rules—thereby hindering talent and suppressing athleticism. I understand some of the restrictions, but I don’t agree with a lot of them. My hope is that the creativity and entertainment value will still hold high. To let go of the artistry would severely hurt this industry.
CP: Some people think that the trend toward making things more uniform is part of the push toward Olympic involvement. What are your thoughts on that?
Little: [All-star cheerleading] is not the format for the Olympics. Leave it alone! It is a subjective event.
CP: What drives or inspires the latest trends? Where do your ideas come from?
Little: I think what drives trends is what the most creative people in the industry do, like the Top Guns, the Cheer Athletics and gyms that people look up to. Whatever new or inventive things they do stunt- or transition-wise, people take notice and try to emulate what they are putting out there. As far as what I do in the dance area, I just do my best to keep the entertainment value and the interpretation of music alive.
CP: What do you wish gym owners and coaches would do when bringing in an outside choreographer?
Little: I think that choreographers and owners/coaches need to communicate before bringing in extra help. With my clients, we always make sure everything works out correctly, whether it be travel, accommodations or anything needed while I am there working for them. It’s all about understanding everyone’s needs.
The only critique I would bring up is that coaches sometimes need to stand back and not interrupt the creative process.
CP: What’s the most important piece of advice you can give cheer professionals?
Little: Go with your gut—go with the formula you’ve always known. Don’t compromise the integrity of creativity or entertainment.