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 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.