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 and New Zealand, 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 and the babyballet brand have won numerous awards including ITV Mumpreneur, Best Business Parent at the Mum and Working Awards, Halifax Courier Young Business Person (2007) and Entrepreneur (2008). Claire was featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Ballet’ exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.
“The success of babyballet isn’t just down to me; it’s a testament to the fantastic team I work alongside. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their enthusiasm and energy in making babyballet the success and happy place it is today,” Claire says.