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LinaLina

Francesca Hayward

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Posted (edited)

Hello Everyone,

The Royal Ballet is one of my favourite ballet companies. It has so many talented young dancers, one of whom is Francesca Hayward who has recently been promoted to principal dancer.

I noticed that there has not been that much discussion on her performances and I was wondering if any of you have seen her perform live?

 

Edited by LinaLina

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I have see Francesca Hayward perform live.  I saw her debut in Manon around 3 years ago and she was just incandescent.  I'm looking forward to seeing her in that role again in May.

Her bouree entrance in Rhapsody was so beautiful I was moved to tears.

She was sublime as Giselle.

I think she is very special indeed.

 

 

 

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While there are a few members from Great Britain who post here, and sometime our members visit, unfortunately, the Royal Ballet hasn't toured much, and many of us haven't had a chance to see much of the company.  We'd love to hear more about Hayward, because the little we have heard has been great!

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I saw her Giselle in February and  and watching her in Act 2 there came a moment when I suddenly felt that little, and so rare, shiver of recognition; she's The Real Thing. Impossible to describe, unmistakeable when you see it.

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Posted (edited)

Hayward was promoted to principal at the end of the 2015-16 season. Naghdi was promoted at the end of last season. Hayward made an extraordinary debut in the Collier role in Rhapsody during the 2014 season with James Hay taking the male lead in the ballet. They danced it beautifully. Hay made his role  look like a wonderful piece of choreography by dancing the ballet rather than displaying each of the steps. Hayward also emphasised the flow of the movement and as she can do quick changes of direction as if they are normal and pose no challenges the result was an object lesson in how Ashton 's choreography should be danced. They repeated this approach when it was last revived and I think that a lot of people regret that it is not their account of the ballet which appears on DVD. In the period between her 2014 debut in Rhapsody and her promotion to principal  she made a very successful debut as Alice dancing with Muntagirov as Jack and made the whole confection palatable; an extraordinary debut as Manon dancing opposite Watson and a somewhat less outstanding debut as  Juliet dancing opposite Golding . At least one critic wrote to say that her Juliet showed what a single dancer could do with Juliet on her own but that she  needed another Romeo who was more responsive. It will be interesting to see who she is cast opposite when it comes back next season.

During the 2016-17 season Hayward made her debut as Lise with Sambe as her Colas; danced the Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time and followed that up with her debut as Aurora. In these latter ballets she was partnered by Alexander Campbell. Her debut as SPF was one of the events which was covered in the BBC documentary about staging the Nutcracker which was first shown at Christmas 2016. I think that it can still  be found on the internet. At the end of the 2016-2017 season she made her debut as Titania with Sambe as her Oberon. A session of Leslie Collier coaching them was included in the Insight event about the Ashton Mixed Bill staged at the end of last season. It can be found on the internet . The audience who attended the single performance of Ashton's Dream which Hayward and Sambe gave came out at the end of it grinning like Cheshire cats. An acquaintance of mine who is exceptionally hard to please simply said of her performance  that she is "The best since Sibley" which is the highest praise you can bestow on anyone in that role. Sambe was extraordinary as Oberon as he delivered both Ashton's speed and dynamics and Oberon;s thought process.

Hayward  has recently made her debut as Giselle dancing with Campbell replacing Sambe who was originally cast as Albrecht . While I think that her mad scene is work in progress her second act was extraordinarily satisfying and moving with Campbell managing to be a wonderfully unobtrusive partner. Hayward seems to be searching for a more internalised breakdown than is found in a traditional rendering of the mad scene. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when she has found what she seems to be looking for. In a recent interview Naghdi  said that she had been searching for her mad scene and was pleased to have found it before her debut.

Both Hayward and Naghdi were brilliant in Balanchine's Tarantella when it was staged recently. Naghdi is, I think, a more diamond sharp dancer than Hayward who seems to flow although this could be as much to do with who has been coaching them as anything else. Naghdi and Ball really came to notice when they were cast as Lensky and Olga in performances of Onegin which included Osipova as Tatiana. This joint debut was followed up by an equally outstanding joint debut as Romeo and Juliet. If I had to point to other differences between the two women I would say that  Hayward has speed where Naghdi has admitted that she had to work on her speed when she was cast as Aurora . During the 2016-2017 Naghdi made her debut as SPF and as Aurora with Ball as her partner on both occasions . I have to say that I have never seen such an assured and charming debutant Aurora. Sections of the two dancers being coached by Kevin O'Hare can be found on the internet. Naghdi appeared with Ball as the lead couple in Emeralds when Jewels was staged recently and again they gave a very fine account of the choreography. Their most recent joint debut was a few weeks ago as Giselle and Albrecht and again it was exceptional. Naghdi gave a far more traditional account of the mad scene than Hayward who I felt was searching for something different. Naghdi said  recently that she only worked out how she would play the mad scene very late in the day.

It would seem that management is trying to balance the roles out between its two newest female principals. Naghdi has been cast as Odette/ Odile whereas Hayward has not been cast in  the leading role in the first run of the company's  new Swan Lake.  I assume that she is destined for the Neapolitan Dance and the Pas de Trois in the streamed  performance of the ballet and that she will make her debut as Odette/ Odile when the production is revived. In the meantime there is much to look forward to. Hayward is dancing with Bonelli as her De Grieux in the her current revival of Manon with Naghdi due to make her debut as Mistress in the next few weeks. As  for next season Les Patineurs and Two Pigeons are being revived so there is plenty of scope for hope as far as new roles are concerned . The great thing for most of us is that the two new principals are  not alone there seem to be plenty of talented dancers female and male at every level of the company.

The Hayward, Naghdi debuts as Giselle came within less than twenty four hours of each other. As a long time acquaintance said to me in the not too distant past we would have been extremely grateful if in a single season we had seen one debut of the quality of those Giselles given by Hayward and Naghdi  but now with  the number of talented dancers at all levels in the company we have almost come to take it for granted that debuts will be exceptionally good.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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Posted (edited)

I applaud all the sentiments expressed by Ashton Fan above ... (happily all the performances noted I have seen) but simply wish to point out that Hayward was blistering as the second soloist in Emeralds - that solo being one of my favourites - and I felt actually made Pita's 'The Wind' a narrative piece rather than the summation of twists and turns (as interesting as they spasmodically were) at its premiere. 

Hayward is a gossamer daredevil; i.e., an infectious gift to be cherished.  

Edited by meunier fan

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It was seeing the BBC's documentary, with Hayward learning to debut as the SPF, that started my resurgent love of ballet, along with seeing her absolutely beautiful dancing as Clara in the cinema screening of the Nutcracker. Her partnership with Campbell in both roles was lovely to watch.

Since then I have been very fortunate to see her this year live at the Royal Ballet, debuting as Giselle, in her reprise as Perdita in Wheeldon's The Winters Tale, and in her futher reprise as Manon on the opening night of its current run.

All major roles, all so different, and all danced and acted so wonderfully. Like Jane Simpson, I have had shivery moments  of delight in seeing her now "owning" the stage,  and realising how great a dancer she is becoming.

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