On my radar: Francesca Hayward’s cultural highlights | Francesca Hayward

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Ballet dancer Francesca Hayward was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1992 and moved to West Sussex at the age of two. She began training at the Royal Ballet School aged 11, and on graduating joined the company. Within a year, she was cast as Clara in The Nutcracker and in 2016 became a principal dancer. She played the role of Victoria in Tom Hooper’s film of the musical Cats and last year starred in the film Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words. The Royal Ballet and Opera is streaming productions via its website. Full details at

1. Magazine


Apartamento: ‘it’s about the way you put stuff together.’ Photograph: Apartamento Magazine

I am about to move flats and it has got me really into interiors. I’m a massive magazine hoarder, which I got from my grandmother. I love this magazine because it’s a little less done than the usual interiors magazines. It’s off the beaten track, a bit quirky and original. People pick up things from flea markets and it’s not about having really expensive stuff – it’s about the way you put stuff together. I feel that people don’t really tidy their rooms before the photographers come in, which I like. More real!

2. Documentary

Pina (Directed by Wim Wenders)

This whole year, being at home and not being able to dance and not having the freedom or the space to move the way I like to, I have found myself going back to one of my favourite dance films, about German choreographer Pina Bausch. She died some years ago, but I love her work. It is very modern and very ahead of its time. There’s this particular walk the dancers all do in a procession. There are four hand gestures they do with facial expressions and it brings me so much joy. When I was getting a bit frustrated at home, I would just be in my tiny flat doing the Pina Bausch walk by myself.

3. Poetry

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Author Ocean Vuong: ‘pretty special.’
Author Ocean Vuong: ‘pretty special.’ Photograph: Doug Levy/The Observer

I just read Night Sky With Exit Wounds and considering I’m not a poetry fanatic, I found it really beautiful. Sometimes, I find poetry a bit too vague; I don’t really understand it and I don’t pretend to. I love dance, as sometimes there is so much stuff you can’t particularly express, but you get it when you watch it though you might not be able to explain it. And this book is the kind of poetry you can understand. It is pretty special.

4. TV

Succession (Sky Atlantic/NowTV)

Succession: ‘a crazy bunch of characters.’
Succession: ‘a crazy bunch of characters.’ Photograph: HBO

It’s about a billionaire family living in New York. They’re all fighting to lead the family company. There is a lot of betrayal and twists and turns, but it is kind of comical. They’re a crazy bunch of characters but what I loved about it was that each actor in it was really committed to their role. They were so believable as their own individual person. The one who made me laugh the most was probably Roman, played by Kieran Culkin.

5. Food

Pastificio Gentile pasta

Indulgent: spaghetti with burrata cheese and tomato sauce.
Indulgent: spaghetti with burrata cheese and tomato sauce. Photograph: Andrey Starostin/Alamy

I hate cooking with a passion. I hate everything to do with it. I’m not a natural chef. It stresses me out! But I do a lot of pasta. This spaghetti brand — I discovered it by accident. I just picked it up in the supermarket and it changed my life. It sounds really dramatic but I just love it. My most simple meal is caramelised onions and parmesan and my most indulgent is tomato, mascarpone and burrata. The spaghetti just tastes the best with everything and is so satisfying when you twirl it around the fork.

6. Film

Secret People (Thorold Dickinson, 1952)

Audrey Hepburn in Secret People.
Audrey Hepburn in Secret People. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

I haven’t watched this yet but it is on my list because there was a documentary about Audrey Hepburn that recently came out [Audrey] that I was involved in and I learned so much about her. I never knew that her first dream was to be a ballerina before an actress. She actually does a lot of ballet in Secret People. I’ve seen clips and she looks very beautiful as a dancer, so I’m intrigued to see her doing her thing. We all just know her as a beautiful woman and presence on the screen but it is very different to know that she fell into that and her real passion was for ballet.

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