Ballet On Broadway

When Tony nominations are announced on May 5, it’s not a stretch to guess that Broadway super-hit Billy Elliot: The Musical will receive at least a few nods. Elton John’s score and Peter Darling’s choreography have both made a splash. But the scene-stealers are the young boys who alternate in the title role.

 

All three have impressive dance resumés, but the buzz in the ballet world is David Alvarez, a 14-year-old scholarship student at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. The Montréal native began turning heads in New York City four years ago when he auditioned for JKO. Instead of attending a typical cattle call audition, Alvarez was thrown into ABT company class. Undeterred, he performed with enough confidence and épaulement to rival some of the company’s principals.

 

Since then, Alvarez has been focused intently on his dream of joining ABT. Initially, he didn’t even want to audition for Billy Elliot. “I’d seen the movie and liked it, but I’m not a huge Broadway fan,” he says. He decided to try out after the casting director called JKO looking for talented male students and his teacher recommended him.

 

Alvarez had to train for six months in acting, singing and tap dancing before the producers told him he was cast as Billy. “It was really frustrating not knowing if I’d gotten the part. It was such hard work—I didn’t want to be doing it all for nothing,” he says. Nonetheless, he kept at it. “It was a great opportunity to play a principal role. And I felt like a lot of things might happen because of it.”

 

Alvarez says the most difficult skill to master was speaking with a British Midlands dialect, since English is his third language, after Spanish and French. Nailing Billy’s tap numbers was also a challenge. “But,” he notes, “in the future it will definitely help me as a dancer to know other styles than just ballet.”

 

On top of training, rehearsals and three performances a week, Alvarez still takes three to four technique classes at JKO. He believes his ballet background has given him the stamina to make it through the grueling schedule without getting injured.

 

Alvarez plans to return to training full-time at JKO as soon as he finishes with Billy. But he hopes to bring with him the more relaxed attitude he’s learned from Broadway: “In ballet class, I often stress myself out and go crazy if anything’s not right. But in the Broad­way world, people just have fun with it. I like that. Being in Billy has taught me to enjoy performing more—even when it’s not perfect.”

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks