In the new “Cats” trailer, stars Taylor Swift, Idris Elba and James Corden appear as CGI-enhanced felines. But it’s Royal Ballet dancer Francesca Hayward who takes center stage in the two-and-a-half-minute clip.
Set to Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of the song “Memory,” the trailer showcases Hayward’s flawless throws, spins, and long extensions. Hayward plays Victoria, the shy white kitten, in director Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.
Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (who also choreographed the recent Broadway revival of “Cats,” the Universal Pictures film will be released in December.
In a promotional video posted to Hayward’s Instagram account, the ballerina said shooting the film was a “lightning trip.”
“I’ve always done ballet and it feels like I’m living a dream,” she said. “It’s just very surreal for someone who doesn’t sing in public to suddenly sing with Jennifer Hudson.”
Born near Nairobi to a Kenyan mother and a British father, Hayward moved to England when she was 2 years old. She began her training at the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London at the age of 10.
After joining the Royal Ballet company during the 2010-11 season, she quickly rose through the ranks, dancing in roles such as Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Clara in ‘The Nutcracker’. Hayward was promoted to principal dancer in 2016.
This month, Hayward performed in Los Angeles in the Royal Ballet’s production of “Mayerling” and “The Dante Project (Inferno)” choreographed by Wayne McGregor. In his review for The Times, Lewis Segal cited Hayward’s most moving performance as a princess who not only endures social rebuffs but also rape.