When did you start dancing?
When I was 3 years old. My grandparents didn't know how to keep me occupied so they bought a video of The Nutcracker on a whim and that was it, I was happy all day long.
Why did you start dancing?
I can't give a definite reason, I just used to dance everywhere, wherever I was! Taking me to ballet classes seemed like an obvious thing for my grandparents to do.
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
Alla Mikhalchenko from a 70s video of The Bolshoi's Swan Lake.
Which dancer do you most admire?
I love Natalia Osipova's absolute fearlessness on stage.
What's your favourite role?
So far, Manon.
What role have you never played but would like to?
So many things but to play the part of Marguerite in Marguerite and Armande would be incredible.
What's your favourite ballet to watch?
Mats Ek's Carmen.
Who is your favourite choreographer?
Who is your favourite writer?
Who is your favourite director ?
I think Jim Jarmusch is very interesting.
Who is your favourite actor?
I can't choose just one .. I think Vicky Mclure, Albert Finney, Maggie Smith, Morgan Freeman are all particularly brilliant.
Who is your favourite singer?
What is your favourite book?
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
What is your favourite film?
To Kill a Mockingbird.
Which is your favourite city?
For now it's London. I feel at home here. I've only driven through Paris & I've never been to New York. I was recently in Copenhagen just for an afternoon and I'm waiting to go back, I really liked the vibe
just from walking around.
What do you like most about yourself?
I think I'm quite resilient and get on with things as much possible.
What do you dislike most about yourself?
My inability to be patient, I interrupt a lot and don't make sense with my words because I'm generally in a rush to get things out before I forget them!
What's been your proudest moment?
Being on stage with the Royal Ballet. The final curtain call of a principal role always feels overwhelming but I've also felt just as emotional when I've been part of the Swans in Swan Lake or made it through Shades in La Bayadère.
When and where were you happiest?
Anytime I'm with my good friends or family having a good laugh.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Cliché as it might be, my family and dancing.
What is your greatest fear?
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I'd be a morning person.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Getting in to the Royal Ballet.
What is your most treasured possession?
My toy rabbit Hattie who I've had since I was 2 years old. She's normally buried under a pile of clothes in my bedroom but I have to know she's there somewhere. She's my mascot now. Hattie has to come everywhere I go abroad too.
What is your greatest extravagance?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Behaving yourself all the time. Is that a virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
Sometimes I tell a white lie to get out of something I really don't want to do!
If you hadn't been a dancer what would you have liked to do?
Be an actor.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What quality do you value most in a friend.
Someone who makes me laugh.
What quality do you value most in a colleague.
What historical figure do you most admire?
Queen Elizabeth I. Showing that there is no difference to being a man or a woman when it comes to doing a job well!
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you most dislike?
What talent would you most like to have?
To cook well.
What's your perfect idea of happiness?
Being carefree and in the sun with the people I love most.
How would you like to die?
Peacefully and heroically.
What is your motto?
Just do it.
Francesca Hayward – a biography
Francesca Hayward is a Soloist of The Royal Ballet. She trained at The Royal Ballet School and graduated into the Company in 2011, promoted to First Artist in 2013 and Soloist in 2014. She represented The Royal Ballet at the 2012 International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize.
Hayward began dancing aged three and joined The Royal Ballet School aged 11. While at the School she won the 2009 Lynn Seymour Prize, the 2010 Young British Dancer of the Year and both silver prize and the audience choice award at the 2010 Genée International Ballet Competition.
Her repertory since joining the Company has included Manon, Alice, Clara and the Dance of the Mirlitons (The Nutcracker), Princess Florine and Fairy of the Songbird (The Sleeping Beauty), Princess Stephanie (Mayerling), Vera (A Month in the Country), pas de trois (Swan Lake), pas de six (Giselle), Kitri's friend (Don Quixote) and roles in Rhapsody, Infra, Manon, Ballo della regina, Symphony in Cand Asphodel Meadows.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.