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 features Hayward’s flawless jetés, pirouettes 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 has been a “whirlwind journey.”
“I’ve always just done ballet, and I feel like I’m sort of living the dream,” she said. “It’s just very surreal for someone who doesn’t sing in public to suddenly be singing with Jennifer Hudson.”
Born near Nairobi to a Kenyan mother and British father, Hayward moved to England at the age of 2. She began her training with London’s prestigious Royal Ballet School at 10.
After joining the Royal Ballet company during the 2010-11 season, she quickly moved up the ranks, dancing in roles including Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Clara in “The Nutcracker.” Hayward was promoted to principal dancer in 2016.
This month, Hayward performed in L.A. in the Royal Ballet’s production of “Mayerling” and the Wayne McGregor-choreographed “The Dante Project (Inferno).” In his Times review, Lewis Segal cited Hayward’s most moving performance as a princess who endures not only social snubs but also rape.