our story:
The Founders

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.

“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.

babyballet Head Office Team_ Halifax Business Awards 2022babyballet Head Office Team at the Calderdale Business Awards 2022

Barbara Peters

Claire’s mum, Barbara, has been dancing since the age of two. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance, Barbara established her first dance school in the 1950’s, teaching thousands of young people to dance over the years. Even now into her 80s, Barbara, or Mrs Peters as she is fondly known, is still dancing – with no plans to retire!

“Dancing keeps me young and I love being a part of babyballet so that I can pass on my knowledge and passion for dance and ballet to the younger generation and our babyballet teachers.” she says.

In 2019, Barbara was named ‘Britain’s Oldest Ballerina’ by the Daily Mail and following this nationwide fame, Mrs Peters appeared on our screens on the BBC successfully auditioning for Britain’s Greatest Dancer. Since then, as well as her involvement in babyballet, Barbara Peters has kept herself busy teaching Silver Swans classes and appearing on Strictly Come Dancing: It’s Takes Two.

Having devoted 9 decades of her life to ballet and examined all over the world, our inspirational co-founder has gratefully received some of the most honourable accolades including a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Years Honours list and later in the year was awarded a fellowship from the Royal Academy of Dance. 

It is with delight that the babyballet syllabus and dance teaching are guided by the knowledge and experience of our incredible Mrs Barbara Peters. 


"I have known Barbara and Claire for many years so know just how much love and attention to detail they have put into making babyballet what it is today. I love being part of the babyballet family as a franchisee and teacher."

Miss Kelly, babyballet Franchisee, Brighton and Hove