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Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker comes to The Strand

Kassmin Williams
Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker comes to The Strand
(Photo: Gary Sloan photo)

Author: Karen Wong photoDorchester native Elisabeth Scherer, center, performs in The Nutcracker.

The 26th annual production of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker is ending its tour in Dorchester.

From Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, the Tchaikovsky score inspired ballet is taking over The Strand Theatre with shows Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for the show range from $15 to $50.

The tour consisted of earlier performances at The Duxbury Performing Arts Center and the company’s Sanctuary Theatre in Harvard Square.

Artistic director and choreographer Jose Mateo described the production as “fun and engaging.”

“I think people who have never been to ballet before are going to be surprised that they’re going to enjoy it,” Mateo said. “And then people who have been going to ballets from many, many years are going to get a quality product that I think will please them too.”

The production consists of more than 160 Massachusetts and New Hampshire dancers, of all ages, along with 20 professional dancers from the school’s dance company.

This year’s production features special guest and choreographer Peter DiMuro as Drosselmeyer and six dancers from the Boston area who will rotate as lead child character, Clara.

Clara will be danced by Ilona Demler, 13, of Newton, Leila Dixon, 16, of Roslindale, Anna Karayorgi, 13, of Cambridge and Sophia Delia, 13 of Duxbury.

The Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre was founded by Mateo in 1986 and premiered The Nutcracker in 1988.

For Mateo, the most rewarding part of heading The Nutcracker is watching dancers grow up with the show and transition into different roles.

“At this point, half of the women in the company came from the school and I’m really pleased because that’s not typical for ballet organizations, so it makes me feel like we’re really providing something positive and providing opportunities beyond the school years when we’re training the children,” Mateo said.

Mateo said when he first opened the Cambridge-based ballet school he thought it would be one of the few schools that didn’t perform The Nutcracker, but he quickly learned its importance for his students ballet education.

“The Nutcracker is the one traditional thing we do year after year and it’s a good opportunity for everyone to sort of touch base with the roots of ballet, since we really focus on making ballet a contemporary experience,” Mateo said. “It’s the way we make dance performance accessible to the greatest number of people.”

The Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre held its first performance at the The Strand Theatre in 1987.

Mateo called his partnership with The Strand Theatre an important one that helps the dance school connect with other communities.

“It’s a community where we have a lot of organizational partners and for us, it’s really, a very important community and a way for us to serve Boston,” Mateo said about the Strand. “After we have for 13 years now been based in Cambridge we like to think of ourselves as a company from Greater Boston and The Strand Theatre, I think, is the best place to be doing that.”

To purchase tickets for The Strand show, call 617-354-7467 or visit ballettheatre.org.