His senior dance thesis project was inspired by his “work on backward time travel and decision theory.”It was all work at the very highest levels.
Now he is all easy smiles and Eastern philosophy.“Whatever happens,” he said, “is going to happen.”“Are you saying the future is predetermined? Though the youngest of the three, he was a veteran Billy before the musical even opened in New York, having played the role in London, and he stayed on Broadway the longest.
Back to dance school afterward, then high school, then Princeton University, where he majored in philosophy and earned a certificate in dance.
Few outside the military seem to understand the tight camaraderie, the sense of mission.
But going from the barracks to the stage, even if you’re playing a sailor on shore leave, is a particularly intense disorientation.“In the military, it was a strict mind-set of being a warrior,” Mr. “With the arts, it’s a completely different mind-set.
It’s all about being vulnerable so you can create.”It was a rough adjustment — “a battle,” he said.
As soon as “On the Town” ended, he bought a one-way ticket to Mexico, where he knew no one. “Billy Elliot” was coming to Mexico City and the production needed help training the young Billys. Alvarez spent the next four months teaching, and learning many things about the show that he had never known or appreciated.He is joined in the dance by Older Billy, his vision of the dancer he would become. Alvarez put it, “gone AWOL” so he could figure out who he really was.He would soon leave the production and return to his wanderings in Mexico for some months before going off to college.Back in the day, when the trio would rotate in the title role, each bringing his own personal quality, Mr. Kowalik, by his own account, was the Vulnerable Billy, rule-bound and reserved. Maybe just the way I present myself has changed.”I asked these same sort of things a few days later in West Hollywood over dinner with Mr.Alvarez was the Angry Billy, who would come off the stage tear-stained with emotional intensity. Now 24 and, as the afternoon in the dance studio confirmed, as agile on his feet as ever, he is one of the more engagingly and acutely introspective people you could meet.“I think about this a lot,” he said. Kulish, who had come to the restaurant from teaching a ballroom dancing master class.“It’s hard to describe your own self,” he said. But over dinner each Billy gave it a shot, telling his own story of lucky breaks, setbacks, ambitions, injury and the dance of growing up.“When I was little I wanted to do everything right,” Mr. He was at dancing school before he turned 4 and had won an Irish dancing world championship before he turned 12.After his tour of duty, the Tony Award in his duffel bag, Mr.Alvarez returned to Broadway, landing a role as a swing in “On the Town.” It is difficult enough for soldiers to re-enter the civilian world.They moved back to the West Coast, and he has not looked back. Alvarez was heading into his sophomore year at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland when the casting director for “West Side Story” found him.He had moved to Ohio in part to be near his father, not to drop out of show business.After two decades of performing before thousands of spectators and teachers and fellow dancers, Mr. It is hard to find much that he is not doing, or has not done, or has no plans to do soon. Kulish saw himself as the Sincere Billy, and this is still a good description. There was a lot to catalog, though not on Broadway: world ballroom dancing competitions, ballet concerts at the Kennedy Center, work at the Geffen Playhouse, shows at resorts in Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta. Kowalik’s sort of self-analysis, or the kind of soul-searching that Mr. Three years ago, immediately after his debut season in the dance troupe on “Dancing With the Stars,” where he really discovered his love for choreography, when doors seemed to be opening for him everywhere, he learned that he had been dancing for months with fractures in both feet. It also meant wearing medical boots for a whole summer, the longest pause of his career.Kowalik was doing something that no one knew he was doing, and he loved it.“I feel like it’s easier to kind of make your own decisions about what you want when you feel like you don’t have to prove yourself,” he said. He would fully recover (he recalled those months as an opportunity “to get my upper body really strong”).