A MOTHER of two who set up a unique business teaching under fives to dance is planning to expand the company and launch a franchise of the operation.
Claire O’Connor, who runs Babyballet, has opened new studios in a converted mill in Halifax and now plans to launch the classes across the UK.
The unique classes have been designed to develop important motor skills such as balance, co-ordination and agility. They introduce babies, toddlers and pre-school children to planned and supervised physical activity.
Children learn basic skills such as hopping, jumping, rolling and skipping.
Ms O’Connor was awarded a Calderdale business grant – which is supported by Yorkshire Forward – of more than £6,000 to expand the business.
The grant has allowed Ms O’Connor to renovate the ground floor of Greenwoods Mill to create dance floors and a coffee shop.
In 1999, she began teaching children aged between 18 months and five years how to move to music and express themselves through dance.
After realising how popular the classes were Ms O’Connor recognised the potential of the market and set up Babyballet last year.
Following Babyballet’s expansion, more than 250 children now attend the 25 dance classes and two extra staff have been taken on.
Claire said: “We’ve now been able to start a proper ballet academy that’s proving a huge success with youngsters.
“Moving to the new premises has allowed us to host all our classes at one site rather than hiring individual venues.
“The two new studios have plenty of room and we’ve been able to increase the number of classes we run by more than 30 per cent.”