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Sweet success for the kid from Moss Side

It’s a long way from a Moss Side sweet shop to a chocolate factory in Hollywood, especially when your travelling companions have two left feet.

For choreographer Francesca Jaynes, however, every step of the unexpected journey has been an adventure. Brought up above the family sweet shop in Manchester’s Moss Side, her childhood dreams were of becoming a classical ballerina. When her latest work premiers in London later this month it will feature not pirouetting swans on a lake – but Oompah Lumpahs dancing in a chocolate factory.

Warner Brothers film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp, is just the latest in a long list of films Francesca has worked on with some of the biggest names in the industry. Her ability to create the movements which exactly reflect the vision in a director’s mind and her skill at teaching even the most left-footed celebrity to move in character, has made her much in demand. The back injury when she was training to become a dancer that put an end to her life as a performer gave her the drive to become one of the most sought after choreographers in the world of entertainment.

It was she who developed movement concepts for Jude Law and robotic sequences in Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster AI Artificial Intelligence. It was Francesca that Mike Leigh called to stage and choreograph his award winning story of Gilbert & Sullivan, Topsy Turvey, for which Francesca won a nomination for Best Film Choregoraphy. And it was Francesca whom Hollywood’s Irwin Winkler wanted to devise the choreography for his MGM film of Cole Porter’s life, She’s De Lovely starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd.

Far from seeing herself as a celebrity, Francesca Jaynes describes herself as “just an ordinary kid from Mosside.” Yet her personal life is as inspiring as her professional career. She had her first baby at the age of 39, but became a mother 13 years ago when her partner’s estranged wife died suddenly leaving two young sons, aged 8 and eleven. Until recently her brother lived in a flat in the home she shares with her partner …. And her childhood best friend became an unofficially adopted sister when the girl’s mother died and Francesca’s family took her in. Her capacity for love is a seemingly endless as her passion for dance.

“If you asked every parent in this country whether they want their child to play an instrument or dance, most would say the former. Yet dance teaches you so much. You learn control, it keeps you fit and toned and it gives you confidence; you can always tell someone has learned to dance the minute they enter a room. More than anything dance changes your attitude to everything because you are more comfortable with yourself. You have to dance,” she says.

Now 46, she juggles a hugely successful career and a demanding family life with humorous dexterity: she surprised Hollywood by taking and caring for her seven year old son Mitch while working on AI; at home she prefers gardening to cooking and boogyboarding with family and friends in Cornwall rather than holidaying in exotic hotspots.

Francesca Jaynes is currently working on The Virgin Queen for BBC 1 and later this year will be working with Dawn French on a two hour drama for LWT. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premiers on July 17th at

Francesca is an excellent and easy interviewee whose life will be of interest to many. To arrange an interview and for more information, please contact Chris Lee or Victoria Walker at Talk Up on 01323 831829, mobile 07917 568 234 or email chris@talk-up.com.

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