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Jan McNulty

Press Release: baby ballet - UK Dance Business Goes Global and makes its biggest grand jeté yet 

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UK Dance Business Goes Global and makes its biggest grand jeté yet 

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Media release: Tuesday 5 September 2017

 

babyballet is the UK’s leading pre-school dance programme and started life with ten pupils in a children’s play gym in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 2005. 


Now 12 years, 73 UK and 33 Australasian franchises later, the multi-award winning babyballet has successfully launched down under in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Auckland.  


Collectively, the UK and Australasian teachers instruct over 20,000 young children in ballet and tap dance in over 1500 babyballet classes a week. 


Sharing the news at babyballet’s annual conference, founder and director Claire O’Connor, who also featured in Channel 4's Big Ballet documentary, said: “The last twelve months have been the most successful in babyballet’s history as franchises continue to grow at home and abroad. We continue to look ahead and with aims of introducing babyballet in America and Canada, encouraging more boys and girls to dance and exercise, the future looks bright for our pre-school dance training programmes.”


babyballet continues to inspire thousands of young children from 6 months to 6 years of age to fall in love with dance and exercise. The classes provide a happy and safe environment for boys and girls to learn to dance and gain confidence. Through her own personal experience, Claire spotted a gap in the market for non-competitive dance classes for children of all abilities and the company has swiftly grown into over 100 franchisees worldwide. 


After featuring in Channel 4's three part inspiring arts documentary Big Ballet, Claire still continues to spread the positive message that the documentary upheld - everyone can do ballet! Claire’s dream of bringing ballet to all, not just the most talented students, began with her own painful experience of taking up dance.  She attended classes from the age of three but she soon discovered she didn’t fit in. 


Claire explained: “I loved ballet but it didn’t love me. I was the wrong shape and I felt that only the best students were accepted. It left me with a tremendous lack of self-confidence and a very poor body image which followed me through to later life. I started babyballet so every pre-school child who attends class has a positive experience of dance whilst still learning the basic ballet technique, with a focus on play and lots of fun.”


Working closely alongside her mother Barbara Peters (babyballet co-founder and registered Royal Academy of Dance teacher and former worldwide examiner for the RAD), Claire developed babyballet’s unique syllabus and teacher training programme and set to work to bring fun, non-competitive quality classes to pre-schoolers. 


babyballet teachers are carefully recruited, trained and supported in order to provide the very best tuition. By offering four key stages of ballet and tap classes, every child builds confidence and social skills and develops their basic ballet technique, coordination, musicality, balance, posture and rhythm. With an emphasis on fun, without any pressure, the fully qualified teachers are joined in class by the babyballet bears Twinkle & Teddy, who help to encourage the young ballet stars to interact and share as they learn. 


Over the last seven months Claire has visited Australia on three occasions to spread the word and build babyballet, and has encouraged more women to expand their individual businesses.


Claire adds: “All the teachers in Australia and New Zealand who have taken out a license are women and already run their own dance studio. With babyballet’s knowledge and experience we can help our franchisees develop as business leaders too.” Claire hopes babyballet teachers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand will have the opportunity to meet at a worldwide conference followed by an exchange programme for teachers from the UK to work in Australasia, and vice versa. 


As babyballet expands and financial turnover continues to grow, the launch of the new website and the opening of a larger warehouse in Halifax will meet demand for the ever-growing interest in babyballet and its global brand.


Claire sums up the context of the success and said: “At the heart of babyballet is the young children and watching them on both sides of the world enjoying the pre-school dance programme is a dream come true. We hope we can encourage more young children to dance and exercise whilst building their confidence and enjoyment of dance too.”


Claire, along with her company, has won numerous national and regional awards (including a prestigious netmums award and an ITV This Morning mumpreneur award – full list below).  babyballet also fundraises. Last year, babyballet joined forces with Tommy's for Tommy’s Danceathon 2016. Supported by Amanda Holden, television presenter, actress and singer and judge on ITV's Britain's Got Talent, the Danceathon and young babyballet stars raised over £371,154.47 for Tommy's - enough to fund a Tommy's research centre for nearly a year, helping save many babies lives. 


NOTE TO EDITORS:  

babyballet UK: www.babyballet.co.uk/ 
babyballet Australia: www.babyballetdance.com.au/ 
Social media: www.twitter.com/@babyballet  // www.facebook.com/babyballetUK // www.instagram.com/babyballetworld // www.youtube.com/user/twinklethebear 

 

babyballet AWARDS: 
Loved By Parents Award – Platinum Award for the Best Baby / Toddler Class (2017)
Halifax Courier Business Awards - Founder Claire O’Connor Business Person of the Year (2015) 
Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards - Founder Claire O’Connor for Retail Business of the Year (2015) 
The Dance Teacher Hub Awards - Dance Brand & Dance Franchise of the Year (2015) 
Loved By Parents National Awards - Best Baby/Toddler Class (2014) 
International What’s On 4 Junior Awards - Most Outstanding Activity Leader (2015) for babyballet teacher Emily Waddell for outstanding teaching 
The Halifax Courier Business Awards - Best Small to Medium Enterprise (2015)
International Dance Supplies – Shortlisted for Dance School of the Year (2013)
Loved By Parents National Awards - Best Baby/Toddler Class (2013)
Netmums - Best Activity Class (2012)
ITV’s ‘This Morning’ Mumpreneur Award - Founder Claire O’Connor for combining her entrepreneurial skills to set up and build the babyballet business whilst bringing up her family of four children
Halifax Courier – Claire O’Connor awarded Entrepreneur of the Year (2008)
Halifax Courier – Claire O’Connor awarded Young Business Person of the Year (2007) 
Mum and Working Awards - Claire O’Connor awarded Best Business Parent
Mum and Working Awards - Best Franchise
Mumpreneur UK - Best Interactive Business
Inspire Award from Calderdale College – Founder Claire O’Connor for services to the local community and dance sector 
Pulse Radio – Founder Claire O’Connor received a Local Hero Award

 

 

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It was my dd's intro to ballet, too. I hadn't realised she still remembered it (she was 2!) but recently we walked past the church hall where it was held, and she turned to me and said "do you remember good toes, naughty toes?". So it made an impression!

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