Ballerina Francesca Hayward leaps from stage to screen with Cats
LONDON: British ballerina Francesca Hayward is getting ready to take a leap from stage to the silver screen, with a star turn in the film version of the musical Cats.
This holiday season, the Royal Ballet principal dancer will be appearing in a production of Coppelia at London's Royal Opera House.
At the same time, in cinemas across the world, she will be appearing as the cat Victoria in the movie based on British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit stage show.
"When I was younger, I used to dance to lots of ballet videos... but among my favourite videos would be Cats," said Hayward, 27.
"I would invite my friends round to play with me and I would put Cats on and I would always be Victoria."
An innocent, shy white kitten who is known for her beauty and poise, Victoria has an expanded role in the film, in which the actors' faces are visible and their bodies are covered in computer-generated fur.
Hayward will also be singing a new tune, Beautiful Ghosts, written by co-star Taylor Swift and Lloyd Webber and nominated for a Golden Globe.
"I have always had roles in my head that I thought I would get to play, maybe, possibly, but I have to say, I never really thought that I'd ever be Victoria since that is not in our ballet repertoire," Hayward said.
"I found the singing really scary... I had a surreal day on set where they asked me to go to the music room and Taylor was there, and she basically sang me the solo that I would sing in the film... And at the end of it, she said ,'Is that okay?' I said, 'Yeah, that is okay. I'll do my best with it.'"
Nairobi-born Hayward, who began dancing at the age of three, trained at the Royal Ballet School, graduating into the company nearly 10 years ago.
She has performed in The Nutcracker, Frankenstein, Swan Lake and Don Quixote among others, and is also currently rehearsing for Onegin.
Hayward, who featured on the British Vogue Forces For Change cover when Meghan Markle, wife of Britain's Prince Harry, guest edited the magazine's September issue, has also starred in a film version of Romeo And Juliet.
"Onstage, I have to amplify some of my emotions with my back or make something a little bit more obvious because my audience might be very far away from me or very high up and find it harder to read what I am trying to express," Hayward said.
"On camera, everything has to be sort of toned down a lot more but read very well." - REUTERS