On a sleepy summer morning recently, a group of about 50 dancers from New York City Ballet gathered inside a sunny rehearsal studio at Lincoln Center and stretched. They had come from three weeks of rest and were back in company class, preparing for a tour in upstate New York. Some carried energy drinks and bottles of hand sanitizer; others brought their dogs, who settled into naps under the barre as the dancers began a series of exercises — plies, tendus, jumps and pirouettes.

Tall and stately, Chun Wai Chan stood near the center of the studio. In May, he became the first principal dancer of Chinese descent in City Ballet’s 74-year history, only the fourth Asian to hold that rank. At the studio that morning, some dancers were still easing into their routines. But he brimmed with energy, vowing to use class time to exercise each muscle.

"I need to focus,” Chan, 30, says. "I really need to push myself.”