"Ballet is something that requires strength, confidence and discipline. Its a skill that really helps the children with their self-esteem."
The first male owner of a global dance franchise wants to inspire more men and boys to get into ballet.
One of the fastest growing franchise businesses in the UK, babyballet®, has proudly welcomed Matty Hurst to its team of franchisees. Matty, 28, is now up and running with ballet classes in Ashford, Kent, where around 150 children aged between six months and six years take part in classes from Monday to Saturday.
The experienced dancer has well over a decade of professional experience, having worked in theatre shows and on global tours.
Matty is hoping that as the first male franchise owner at babyballet®, he will be able to inspire the next generation of boys – and encourage more male professional dancers to take up ballet and teaching.
He explained: “Ballet is something that requires strength, confidence and discipline. It’s a skill that really helps the children with their self-esteem. They just love it.
“Ballet has given me so much in life and it would be amazing to see more boys believing they can be ballet dancers if they want to be without any stigma attached.”
He is also backing the My Boy Can social media campaign to support and promote the right of every child to enjoy what they like, without the constraints of gender stereotypes.
Matty first took up performing arts at school at the age of 16. He now specialises in ballet, contemporary, disco and jazz.
He went to Canterbury University to study contemporary dance before going on tour with theatre companies to act and dance, in particular performing in the American musical Avenue Q.
“Having my own babyballet® school is even more special to me too because it means I get to teach my four-year-old daughter at my babyballet® classes and she loves it.”
Claire O’Connor, founder of babyballet®, believes there should not be any barriers for any young person wanting to become a dancer.
“Boys and girls have always been welcomed at our classes and Matty joining us as a franchisee will only strengthen the fact that our classes are inclusive to all and the doors are open to everyone,” said the 46-year-old from Halifax, West Yorkshire.
“Our classes are fun, enjoyable and sociable which makes it easy for everyone to fit in. We all should be encouraging young people to bring their passions to life regardless of gender and we are proud that babyballet® allows that.”
The babyballet® brand has collected numerous awards for the way in which it challenges ‘traditional’ methods, including the most loved music, dance or performing arts activity with 30 or more leaders in the What’s On For Kids awards, announced in October.
With 83 franchises currently running around 2,000 classes a week for 25,000 children in the UK, Claire has successfully expanded the business into Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, establishing licenced babyballet® schools down under for the past two years.
Matty’s classes take place at the Elwick Club, Ashford, from Monday to Saturday.