Francesca Hayward

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Francesca Hayward
Francesca Hayward.jpg
Hayward dances for Swans for Relief in May 2020
Born (1992-07-04) 4 July 1992 (age 28)
Nairobi, Kenya
EducationRoyal Ballet School
OccupationBallet dancer, actress
Height5 ft 2 in (157 cm)
Current groupThe Royal Ballet

Francesca Hayward (born 4 July 1992) is a Kenyan-born English ballet dancer and actress. She is a principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London. In 2019, she starred as Victoria the White Cat in the musical film Cats, an adaptation of the stage musical of the same name.

Early life[edit]

Hayward was born in July 1992 in Nairobi, Kenya, the daughter of an English father and a Kenyan mother. At the age of two, she moved to the Goring-by-Sea suburb of Worthing in West Sussex to live with her grandparents.[1][2] She started ballet at age 3, after her grandparents bought her a video of The Nutcracker.[3] When she was young, she danced at Le Serve School of Ballet and Theatre Dance in Worthing until her teacher encouraged her to audition to White Lodge, the junior section of the Royal Ballet School.[4][5] After being a Junior Associate from the age of nine, she entered the School at the age of 11 in 2003, and progressed to the Royal Ballet Upper School in 2008.[6] According to Hayward, due to an injury, she did not officially graduate, but received a certificate of attendance.[7]


During her training, Hayward was recognised as an exceptionally gifted dancer and after joining the Royal Ballet in 2010, was increasingly cast in more prominent roles during major productions.[8][9][10] She was promoted to First Artist in 2013, Soloist in 2014, First Soloist in 2015 and Principal in 2016.[4] Hayward's talent and technique have received critical praise and acclaim.[11][12]

In 2012, Hayward danced a pas de deux from The Flower Festival in Genzano with fellow Royal Ballet dancer James Hay at the Erik Bruhn Competition in Canada. She danced Clara for the first time in The Nutcracker at Covent Garden in 2012.[13]

Hayward was featured in the BBC documentary film Dancing the Nutcracker: Inside the Royal Ballet,[14] Her performance as Clara in Sir Peter Wright's production of The Nutcracker and in Woolf Works was recorded for DVD by Opus Arte,[15][16] and the latter was also broadcast on BBC.[17]

In November 2018, Hayward joined the cast of Cats. She played the role of Victoria in the film directed by Tom Hooper, as well as singing the song "Beautiful Ghosts" written by Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber.[18][19] To allow her participation, Hayward took a temporary leave of absence from The Royal Ballet until the conclusion of filming.[20][21][22] She returned to performing with The Royal Ballet in May 2019, dancing alongside Cesar Corrales in his ROH debut in Romeo and Juliet.[23]

In 2020, Hayward's debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.[24] She participated in Misty Copeland's fundraiser, Swans for Relief, by dancing The Swan, in light of the pandemic's impact on the dance community. The fund will go to participating dancers' companies and other related relief funds.[25] In Royal Opera House's first performance since the lockdown, which was live-streamed on YouTube, Hayward danced a new piece choreographed by Wayne McGregor alongside Corrales.[26]


Ballet (Principal) Choreographer Role, Debut Date and Reference
The Nutcracker Sir Peter Wright (after Lev Ivanov) Clara (December 2012)[13]
A Month in the Country Sir Frederick Ashton Vera (June 2013)[27]
Manon Sir Kenneth MacMillan Manon (October 2014)[28]
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Christopher Wheeldon Alice (December 2014)[29]
Romeo and Juliet Sir Kenneth MacMIllan Juliet (October 2015)[30]
Rhapsody Sir Frederick Ashton Lead Female Principal (January 2016)[31]
The Winter's Tale Christopher Wheeldon Perdita (April 2016)[32]
The Invitation Sir Kenneth MacMillan The Girl (May 2016)[33]
Frankenstein Liam Scarlett Justine (May 2016)
La Fille Mal Gardée Sir Frederick Ashton Lise (October 2016)[34]
The Nutcracker Sir Peter Wright (after Lev Ivanov) The Sugar Plum Fairy (December 2016)[35]
The Sleeping Beauty Marius Petipa Aurora (February 2017)[36]
Mayerling Sir Kenneth MacMillan Princess Stephanie (May 2017)[37]
Tarantella George Balanchine The Girl (May 2017)[38]
The Dream Sir Frederick Ashton Titania (June 2017)[39]
Giselle Sir Peter Wright Giselle (February 2018)[40]
Coppelia Dame Ninette de Valois (after Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti) Swanilda (November 2019)[41]
Onegin John Cranko Olga (January 2020)[42]

Hayward has also danced as Princess Florine The Sleeping Beauty, Rose Fairy in The Nutcracker, and roles in Infra, Ballo della Regina, Symphony in C, and Within the Golden Hour,[4] and in Robert Binet's immersive work, The Dreamers Ever Leave You (in collaboration with the National Ballet of Canada).

Created roles[edit]

Ballet Choreographer Date and Reference
Woolf Works Wayne McGregor May 2015[43]
Multiverse Wayne McGregor November 2016[44]
Morgen Wayne McGregor June 2020[26]


Year Title Role Notes
2016 Dancing the Nutcracker: Inside the Royal Ballet Herself BBC documentary film
2017 The Sun Is God Francesca Short film
2019 Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words Juliet
Cats Victoria

Awards and honours[edit]

As a student at The Royal Ballet School, Hayward won the 2009 Lynn Seymour Award for Expressive Dance and the 2010 Young British Dancer of the Year Award.[11] She was also awarded the silver medal and Audience Choice Award at the 2010 Genee International Ballet Competition.[45] Hayward won the Best Emerging Artist in 2014 and the Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer in 2016 at the Critics Circle National Dance Awards.[46]

She was one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.[47]

For her role in the 2019 film Cats, she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award in the Worst Actress category.[48]

In 2020, Hayward was recognised as one of the United Kingdom's most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage by being included in the 2021 edition of the annual Powerlist. [49]


  1. ^ Mackrell, Judith (19 October 2014). "Francesca Hayward: the next great British ballerina?". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Meakin, Nione (29 July 2019). "Francesca Hayward on her journey from a recital at Worthing Pavilion to the Royal Ballet". Sussex Life. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  3. ^ Winship, Lyndsey (11 November 2019). "Francesca Hayward Steps Into Hollywood's Spotlight". Dance Magazine.
  4. ^ a b c "Francesca Hayward — People — Royal Opera House". Royal Opera House. Archived from the original on 13 May 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  5. ^ Winship, Lindsey (29 March 2016). "Francesca Hayward, interview: 'I just want always to move people. If someone cries, that's brilliant'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  6. ^ "The Ballet Association".
  7. ^ Norman, Neil (2 March 2020). "Francesca Hayward: 'Criticism of Cats never upset me, the performers all share a sense of humour about it'". The Stage.
  8. ^ Cappelle, Laura (29 January 2016). "Francesca Hayward: The Royal Ballet's Next Crown Jewel". Pointe.
  9. ^ Pearce, Lucy (12 December 2015). "Worthing ballerina Francesca Hayward as Clara in The Nutcracker". The Argus.
  10. ^ Kavanagh, Julie (10 December 2013). "A firefly among moths". 1843. No. January/February 2014.
  11. ^ a b Pithers, Ellie (12 September 2015). "Francesca Hayward: meet the Royal Ballet's diminutive star-in-waiting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Interview with The Royal Ballet's hot couple: Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell". 16 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Ballet: Performance details". 27 December 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  14. ^ "BBC Two - Dancing the Nutcracker - Inside the Royal Ballet". BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (The Royal Ballet)". Opus Arte. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  16. ^ "McGregor / Richter: Woolf Works (The Royal Ballet)". Opus Arte. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  17. ^ "The Royal Ballet's Woolf Works to be broadcast on BBC Four". Royal Opera House. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Miaow! Royal Ballet star Francesca Hayward joins Cats movie". BBC News. 2 November 2018.
  19. ^ Vlessing, Etan (24 October 2019). "Andrew Lloyd Webber Talks Working With Taylor Swift on New 'Cats' Song". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (2 November 2018). "Film News Roundup: Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward Joins 'Cats' Movie". Variety.
  21. ^ Spencer, Mel (10 January 2018). "Royal Ballet Principals Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae to star in Cats". Royal Opera House.
  22. ^ Escoyne, Courtney (2 November 2018). "UPDATED: Two of Our Fave Royal Ballet Principals Just Got Tapped for Roles in the CATS Movie!". Dance Magazine.
  23. ^ "Romeo and Juliet — stars at their peak in Kenneth MacMillan's ballet". The Financial Times. 23 May 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  24. ^ "My Splendid Isolation: Francesca Hayward – 'I fell over doing ballet practice on my wonky kitchen floor'". The Telegraph. 2 April 2020.
  25. ^ "32 Ballerinas From Around the World Perform "The Dying Swan" for COVID-19 Relief". Dance Magazine. 6 May 2020.
  26. ^ a b Veale, Sara. "Sensual and silky: the Royal Ballet returns to Covent Garden". The Spectator.
  27. ^ "Royal Ballet ends season on a high with The ...". Financial Times. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  28. ^ Crompton, Sarah (1 October 2014). "Manon, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, review: 'convincing and exciting'". The Daily Telegraph.
  29. ^ "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Opera House, London — review". Financial Times. 29 December 2014.
  30. ^ Mackrell, Judith (25 October 2015). "Romeo and Juliet review – expressive intelligence of Francesca Hayward's giddy heroine". The Guardian.
  31. ^ Jennings, Luke (24 January 2016). "Rhapsody review – heart-stopping Ashton from Francesca Hayward". The Guardian.
  32. ^ Jennings, Luke (24 April 2016). "The Winter's Tale review – high drama from Soares and Calvert". The Guardian.
  33. ^ Monahan, Mark (29 May 2016). "The Invitation is a fearless return to the heart of darkness - Royal Ballet mixed bill review". The Daily Telegraph.
  34. ^ Mackrell, Judith (7 October 2016). "Royal Ballet: La Fille Mal Gardée review – Hayward and Sambé fall perfectly in love". The Guardian.
  35. ^ "The Nutcracker, Royal Opera House, London — review". The Financial Times. 2 December 2016.
  36. ^ Monahan, Mark (17 February 2017). "Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell rise to the occasion - The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  37. ^ Mackrell, Judith (1 May 2017). "Mayerling review – sex, drugs and revolution in the Royal Ballet's superb staging". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Weibye, Hannah (19 May 2017). "Symphonic Dances, Royal Ballet review - a truly interesting creation - The Arts Desk". The Arts Desk.
  39. ^ Mackrell, Judith (6 June 2017). "Ashton at the Royal Ballet review – miraculous moves and romantic rapture". The Guardian.
  40. ^ Mackrell, Judith (12 February 2018). "Giselle review – exquisite Francesca Hayward is on her way to greatness". The Guardian.
  41. ^ Thompson, Laura (29 November 2019). "coppelia-review-royal-ballet-royal-opera-house-francesca-hayward-is-an-incandescent-delight-in-this-unrepentantly-old-fashioned-treat/". The Daily Telegraph.
  42. ^ Byrne, Emma (20 January 2020). "Royal Ballet's Onegin review: Impassioned choreography and quiet devastation". Evening Standard.
  43. ^ West, Ellen (29 March 2015). "Cast Confirmation: Woolf Works". The Royal Opera House. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015.
  44. ^ "Multiverse". Studio Wayne McGregor. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  45. ^ Stahl, Jennifer (30 November 2001). "2010 Genee Results". Pointe. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  46. ^ "2016 National Dance Awards – Winners Announced". 6 February 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  47. ^ Singer, Jenny (19 December 2019). "Francesca Hayward on Cats, Living Without Regrets, and Getting a Phone Call From Meghan Markle". Glamour.
  48. ^ "RAZZ NEWZ - The Razzies!".
  49. ^ Lavender, Jane (17 November 2020). "Lewis Hamilton ends incredible year top of influential Black Powerlist 2021". mirror. Retrieved 19 January 2021.

External links[edit]