founder Claire O’Connor
& co-founder Barbara Peters
In 1999, Claire O’Connor started ballet classes for very young children with her mum, Barbara Peters, a trained dancer and renowned ballet teacher. Their vision was to create a dance experience for little ones that was both magical and educational. When Claire was growing up, ballet classes could be a bit serious and severe. And even though she enjoyed ballet – it made her feel like an outsider. There was always something missing.
“I wanted our children to experience something different and so we invented a magical world of dance filled with characters, colour, music and fun – a world where every child gets the chance to be valued and shine.”
And so babyballet was born.
Working closely with Barbara, Claire devised a dance syllabus that offers both friendship and learning in a supportive, fun environment. babyballet has over 100 franchised and licensed schools operating throughout the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, teaching dance to more than 20,000 young children a week. In addition to the classes, babyballet also offer a range of themed parties, merchandise, live entertainment and events.
Claire has received much recognition in the children’s activities, franchising and business industries winning numerous awards including; ITV Mumpreneur, Leader of the Year, Industry Champion of the Year, Inspirational Woman of the Year, Overall Woman in Franchising and in 2022 she was invited onto the ‘What’s On 4 Kids’ Hall of Fame! Claire is also proud to be a board member for the Children’s Activities Association who aim to raise standards in all organised children’s activities across the UK.
Proving just how much the ethos that ‘everyone can dance!’ means to her, in 2014 Claire took a huge step out of her comfort zone and was featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Ballet’ exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.