A pre-school ballet company which started with weekly classes in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is celebrating its 15th birthday by signing up the first ‘master licensee’ to further grow the brand in New Zealand.
babyballet® has achieved impressive growth since 2005 and now has 83 franchisees across the UK running around 2,000 classes a week for 25,000 children. The company has also gone global with licences in Singapore and Australia.
babyballet® has a year of celebrations planned to celebrate its milestone anniversary and is delighted to have secured the New Zealand appointment.
The classes were established by Claire O’Connor in 2005 based on her belief that children’s experiences with ballet should be a fun, relaxed and enjoyable activity.
The immediate demand for the sessions exploded and so Claire knew there was an opportunity to expand further so that more children could benefit. She developed the babyballet business into a franchise model and her company hasn’t looked back.
She explained: “I attended traditional ballet classes from the age of 3 to 14 but by the time I got to my teens I started to lose my confidence. I went through a period of low self-confidence and felt I wasn’t the right shape for ballet.
“But I didn’t want other children to feel that way too, so years later, I began offering babyballet classes in Halifax. The emphasis of the classes was then, as it is now, on building fun and confidence.”
Part of the current focus is to continue to develop the brand overseas. Emma Payne has been appointed as the master licensee, to grow the brand across New Zealand, by recruiting new dance studio owners as licensees.
Emma, who graduated from the Auckland City Ballet Centre in 2001 and went on to dance professionally around the world, said: “I instantly fell in love with how well the babyballet syllabus has been created; to make learning to dance at such a young age fun, educational and so focussed on developing the little ones and their confidence.
“There is a very clear path and progression to be made for every age that highlights the need for the expansion of babyballet within New Zealand dance schools, but without the competitiveness of exams. I only wish there was something like this when I was a little one!”
Claire added: “I’m very proud by how far we’ve come but equally I’m really excited about what the future holds for babyballet in the UK and globally.”