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Babyballet

Babyballet Dartford lockdown classes prove a hit as dance school lands double celebration at national awards

November 20, 2020

A dance school which kept twinkle-toed toddlers occupied online during the first lockdown has scooped a national award.

The Babyballet franchise in Dartford has been named among the most loved music, dance or performing arts activities in the UK.

 
It scooped the major accolade at the What’s On 4 Kids Activities Awards, launched in 2007, to celebrate the best kids clubs, along with leaders and volunteers.

Awards are nominated and voted for by a panel of experts, parents and carers and the results were unveiled as part of a virtual ceremony held last month.

Keeping little ones occupied during the first lockdown in March was a struggle for many parents as activities became increasingly home-based.

Related: Buying and Running A UK Children’s Franchises – What Does It Take?

But the dance school, which is targeted at toddlers and babies from six months upwards and also serves Bexley and Bromley, kept classes running online and delivered with aplomb.

“This year has been without doubt the toughest in my businesses history,” says Jessie Lilley, owner of Babyballet Dartford, Bexley, Bromley.

The 39-year-old, who grew up in the area, continued: “But that goes for every company in every industry. My team and I moved our classes online during the first lockdown, so that we could continue teaching our 1000 plus babyballet stars to dance.

“Keeping them happy and active was my main priority!”

On top of this feat there was also an individual accolade for one of the ballet school’s much loved teachers.

Baby ballet instructor Jade Allen, who has taught at the school for six years, was voted the most loved activity leader manager in the South East.

Affectionately known to the the children as Miss Jade, the teacher was overwhelmed to become a winner.

Related: Why babyballet founder is travelling the globe

“The South East is a big place, and I am bursting with pride to have won,” said Jade.

“The team at babyballet Dartford, Bexley and Bromley are like family to me and I adore teaching the classes.

“I can’t wait to get back into the dance studio and see my little stars, with social distancing measures in place to keep them all safe.”

Although the dance classes are closed during the second lockdown, registrations are open for future face-to-face sessions.

“We have returned once and the magic of our classes remained, even with the new safety procedures in place,” added owner Jessie.

“I am counting down the days until I can open the doors again.”

The franchise is headquartered in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and has 83 locations across the UK.

By Sean Delaney

Source: Kent Online

Pre-school ballet classes for Bexley, Dartford and Bromley go online

March 28, 2020

Babyballet UK – It may all be about social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pull on your ballet togs and dance along from home.

Jessie Lilley, the owner of babyballet in Dartford, Bexley, and Bromley, said: “I have had to pause my physical classes for pre-school children for now, due to coronavirus.

 
“But along with my fellow babyballet teachers, I have taken my classes online so my babyballet stars can still participate at home.”

She added: “It’s a worrying time as the UK deals with the outbreak of the coronavirus but we are remaining very positive. As more and more families self-isolate and limit the amount of social contact that they have, our primary focus is to ensure children and families in and around can still enjoy babyballet, even if they can’t physically come to classes.

Related: Buying and Running A UK Children’s Franchises – What Does It Take?

“Our babyballet pupils are aged from six months to five years old and most have no idea about the coronavirus and the effect it’s having in the world around them. It’s our responsibility to keep the babyballet world as normal as possible for them.

“We will be delivering our online classes with as much passion and energy as ever, it’s just that instead of being in a dance studio, we’ll be on a screen in children’s living rooms.”

Founder and CEO of the franchise company, Claire O’Connor, explained: “There are going to be a lot of families trying to keep their children entertained over the coming weeks. We hope that by providing babyballet online children can still enjoy the fun and laughter of classes and continue to keep active.

Related: Children Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“As a company, we have had to adapt quickly to ensure business continuity and have worked closely with our entire network who have all been fantastically supportive to help take babyballet online.

“The response we’ve had from parents and carers has also been really positive; they’re pleased that the children can keep attending classes and they can continue to support our small businesses.”

Client parents can get log-in information for the online platform from the school, and new pupils can also join in.

By Chris Murphy

Source: Bexley Times

Global expansion for Yorkshire dance franchise

February 14, 2020

A global pre-school ballet franchise founded in Halifax is marking its 15th year in business with the addition of its first ever master licensee, based in New Zealand.

Trained ballet dancer Emma Payne has been appointed as the company’s first master licensee and will work to grow the brand across New Zealand through the recruitment of new dance studio owners as licensees.

 
babyballet, founded by Claire O’Connor in 2005, currently has 83 franchisees in the UK as well as licenses in Singapore and Australia.

O’Connor established the classes, which provide a specialised dance syllabus for pre-school children, based on her belief that children’s experiences with ballet should be a fun, relaxed and enjoyable activity.

She explained: “Recruiting our first master licensee to help build the babyballet brand in New Zealand is a key strategic move in the international reach of the business.

Related: Buying and Running A UK Children’s Franchises – What Does It Take?

“babyballet has achieved impressive growth since 2005 and now runs around 2,000 classes a week attended by around 25,000 children.

“We have a year of activities planned to celebrate 15 years of babyballet and welcoming Emma as our first master licensee overseas is a fantastic start to the celebrations.”

Payne graduated from the Auckland City Ballet Centre in 2001 and went on to dance professionally around the world.

Speaking on becoming master licensee for New Zealand, she said: “I instantly fell in love with how well the babyballet syllabus has been created; to make learning to dance at such a young age fun, educational and focused on developing the little ones and their confidence.”

Related: Children Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

O’Connor said: “I attended traditional ballet classes from the age of three to 14, but by the time I got to my teens, I started to lose my confidence. I went through a period of low self-confidence and felt I wasn’t the right shape for ballet.

“I didn’t want other children to feel that way too, so years later, I began offering babyballet classes in Halifax. The emphasis of the classes was then, as it is now, on building fun and confidence.

“I’m very proud by how far babyballet has come in the last 15 years, but equally I’m excited about what the future holds for the brand both in the UK and globally.”

By Miran Rahman

Source: The Business Desk

High five for babyballet as dance franchise celebrates quintet of award nominations

August 29, 2018

A Halifax-based ballet business which has multiple franchises across the world has been shortlisted for no fewer than five industry awards. Babyballet has been nominated in the ‘What’s On 4 Little Ones 2018 Awards’ for the Best Product Supporting Children’s Activities, twice for Most Outstanding Activity Leader for U5s in the South East and London categories, and for Best Franchised/Licensed Baby and Toddler Activity (more than 50 franchises).

Founder of babyballet, Claire O’Connor, is also a finalist in the Industry Champion of the Year category of the awards which is in its 12th year and is the UK’s leading and longest established awards for the sector. A massive 70,000 customer votes were cast in total with the Industry Champion of the Year gong voted for exclusively by high-profile industry judges.

Related: Buying and Running A UK Children’s Franchises – What Does It Take?

“I am so happy for babyballet to be recognised in so many categories. It’s even better to see individuals highlighted for their brilliant work across our franchises and these nominations are a testament of the hard-work from our staff,” said Claire.

“I am overwhelmed to be shortlisted for the Industry Champion award, it’s something I never expected but I’m so happy to be amongst such fantastic leaders in the industry.”

Claire and the babyballet brand are no strangers to being recognised, having won numerous awards including ITV Mumpreneur, Best Business Parent at the Mum and Working Awards, Loved by Children Awards (2018), Loved by Parents Awards (2017), Women in Business’ Retail Business (2015), Halifax Courier Young Business Person (2007) and Entrepreneur (2008). Claire also featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘Big Ballet’ exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.

Related: Why babyballet founder is travelling the globe

Babyballet was founded in 2005 to create a dance experience for six months to six-year-olds to dance, gain confidence and shine, in a fun, caring and supportive environment, away from the traditional strict and serious classes often associated with ballet.

With 74 franchises currently in the UK, Claire successfully expanded the business into Australia and New Zealand last year, establishing 33 new franchises down under with more in the pipeline.

Over 25,000 children now enjoy babyballet on both sides of the world every week. Claire, 45, is currently on a 12-month trip with her husband Chris, 43, and three of their four children, Charlie, 14, Claudia, 12, and 10-year-old Kitty as they visit the likes of Canada, America and Japan to look into expanding the babyballet brand even further.

The ‘What’s On 4 Little Ones’ award winner’s ceremony takes place on October 3 at NatWest in Bishopsgate, London.

Source: Halifax Courier

Why babyballet founder is travelling the globe

July 30, 2018

Greetland-based Claire O’Connor has embarked on a year-long global tour to expand her babyballet business.

And she’s been joined on the worldwide odyssey by husband Chris and three of their four children – Charlie, 14, Claudia, 12, and 10-year-old Kitty. Eldest son Harry has stayed at home to continue his university studies.

Claire used a world map and some wool and pins to chart a “family wish list” of places to visit – combined with ideal locations to set up new franchises for babyballet such as Canada, the USA and Japan.

Claire and the kids joined up with Chris in Canada, where he is a sports analyst working for rugby league team Toronto Wolfpack.

Related: Buying and Running A UK Children’s Franchises – What Does It Take?

Now in Toronto, she is actively looking for opportunities to set up franchises in Canada.

Claire and Chris are home schooling the children during their 12-month travels.

Babyballet is one of the fastest growing franchise businesses in the UK. Claire founded the business in 2005 to create a dance experience for children aged six months to six years in a fun, caring and supportive environment away from the traditional dance classes often associated with ballet.

With 74 franchises currently in the UK, Claire successfully expanded the business into Australia and New Zealand last year, establishing 33 new franchises Down Under – with more in the pipeline. More than 25,000 children now enjoy babyballet in the UK and Australasia every week.

Claire worked with her mother Barbara Peters, a registered Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) teacher and former RAD examiner, to develop babyballet’s syllabus and teacher training programme for franchisees to follow.

“The successful expansion of the business into Australia and New Zealand made me realise that if I can do it there, I can do it anywhere in the world,” said Claire. “With Chris already in Toronto, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to join him and look into expanding over there, as well as other countries.

Related: High five for babyballet as dance franchise celebrates quintet of award nominations

“It’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime and will enable me to take babyballet across the globe and build the brand on an international level. I can’t wait to meet dance school owners and teachers who are keen to bring babyballet to children in their local areas.

“Being able to involve our children is amazing and they are so excited to go, learn and experience new things. It’s not going to be an easy ride, but we’re all in it together and can’t wait to set off.”

Claire and the babyballet brand have won numerous awards including ITV Mumpreneur and Best Business Parent at the Mum and Working Awards. She also featured in Channel 4 documentary Big Ballet exploring issues of size in the world of ballet.

Claire has set up a blog – livingourglobaldream.com – where people can follow the family’s adventures over the next 12 months as she takes the next step in turning babyballet into a worldwide franchise business.

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