The only thing that pairs better than Thanksgiving and football is Christmas and ballet. Beginning on Sat., Dec. 9 and running to Christmas Eve, Dorchester residents will be invited to the Strand Theatre to get in the holiday spirit with José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
Choreographed by founder and artistic director José Mateo, the show is inspired by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s original composition of “The Nutcracker.” Mateo Ballet has been sharing its version of the Christmas classic for over three decades.
“I think our production is very unique in that the structure of the actual ballet itself is something that I have never seen before. It’s not very traditional like the storytelling element” said the studio’s marketing associate, Isobel Chang.
José Mateo Ballet Theatre was founded in 1986 with the mission of making ballet more accessible by welcoming participants of all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. Currently, the company has studios in Cambridge and Dorchester, where many of its students live.
“The Dorchester location, our sister campus I should say, is located in Uphams Corner,” Chang said. “We’ve been there since 2015 and we have a lot of youth ballet programs there for classes as young as 3 years old up until 18 years old.”
Each winter, more than 100 children participate in the ballet in the roles of Clara, Party Children, Mice, Soldiers, Polichinelles, Cherubs, and Angels.
“The children are most the roles in the production,” Chang told the Reporter. “They are the real focus of the production, the stars of the production.”
This year the studio is producing 15 shows, 13 of them for the public, and 2 at schools. To bring more youth into the shows, the ballet company partners with public schools, home schools and youth programs by offering $12 tickets at their school shows. (Ticket prices for public shows run anywhere from $25 to $90.) This year the studio is working with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester.
To further promote equitable access to the arts, the studio partners with local organizations in their Community Ticket Access Program (CTAP). “We specifically work with a bunch of social service agencies as well as nonprofit organizations that are focused on community building to offer them free and reduced tickets to see “The Nutcracker,” said Chang. “So those are targeted towards those agencies and those audiences that normally would not be able to see the show and be exposed to ballet. And that ties into our mission statement – to make ballet more accessible to all audiences.”
With its local presence, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre is heavily involved in the Dorchester community away from the stage. Its members will be at the Christmas tree lighting on Main Street, is working on a partnership with Bowdoin Street, and has been visiting neighborhood libraries. During these library visits, ballet teachers read “The Nutcracker” to participants and then conduct mini-dance lessons.
Through their involvement in the community, they remind Bostonians that dance is much more than just an activity. “To have everyone exposed to this art form can help unify people across different planes and for kids to have the opportunity to explore their self-expression through dance,” said Chang.
Those interested in attending the show can purchase tickets online. Use discount code DOTNEWS for 20 percent off tickets prices.