(Gia Kourlas’s article appeared in The New York Time, 4/24.)

“Are you O.K.?” the choreographer Joshua Bergasse asked his newest dancer during a recent rehearsal for “On the Town” at the Lyric Theater. “Do you want to breathe for a minute? Take a minute. Get some water.”

In other words, if you don’t tell David Alvarez, a swing in the show, to take a break, he won’t.

Being a swing, a performer responsible for learning multiple ensemble roles, for “On the Town,” an athletic, jazz-influenced ballet show, is grueling, yet not even close to some of the punishing physical acts Mr. Alvarez, 20, has put himself through. Mr. Alvarez spent three years of his childhood at another Broadway theater starring as Billy Elliot, the irrepressible British boy seduced by ballet. When he was nearly 16, he took his final bow and finished high school. And then he joined the Army.

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