About José Mateo Ballet Theatre

The mission of José Mateo Ballet Theatre is to: 

  • Create new ballets of excellence that are stimulating and culturally relevant to diverse audiences
  • Create an innovative approach to ballet training that welcomes diversity and ensures unanimous participation and achievement by all students
  • Create sustainable, inclusive and engaging outreach programs that make ballet accessible to participants of all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds
  • Reposition the role of dance in our culture and expand its purpose in the education of youth and enrichment of community locally and beyond

Over the next 5-years, José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s delivery of high-quality services will become increasingly equitable as diversity, inclusion and outreach are more explicitly expressed in all aspects of the organization’s programs.

The long-term vision is that, through Dance for World Community, the organization will provide new structures and opportunities that will allow communities locally and beyond to boldly utilize the inherent power of dance to transcend differences, break barriers and build bridges, as a means to promote social, cultural and environmental justice and build healthier, cohesive communities.”

José Mateo, February 13, 2010


José Mateo Ballet Theatre is a vibrant and diverse community of artists, arts educators, students, audience members, and partnering organizations working at the intersection of artistic excellence, innovation, and social change. Directed by Cuban-born founder José Mateo and incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1986, JMBT has developed from a single studio dance school into the largest minority-led performing arts organization in Greater Boston, forging a new model for a ballet organization through innovative programming, artistic excellence, and extensive community outreach.

The defining feature of José Mateo Ballet Theatre is the successful alignment of excellence, innovation and creativity, social responsibility, and financial sustainability to build and strengthen community. While José Mateo Ballet Theatre is widely recognized as New England’s leading producer of new, critically acclaimed ballets, it is also renowned for its inclusive, humanistic approach to training, extensive outreach to disadvantaged children and families, effective community engagement and the integration of diversity in thought, appearance, ability and cultural backgrounds.

In 2000, the organization secured a long-term lease on Old Cambridge Baptist Church, listed in the Registry of National Historic Places and centrally located in Harvard Square. The facility houses the organization’s administrative offices, four classroom studios and the company’s 6,000 sq. ft. performance venue, The Sanctuary Theatre. Currently, The National Trust for Historic Preservation is developing a case study highlighting the development of José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s home as an outstanding example of “best practices” in adaptive reuses of a house of worship in the United States.


After performing for a decade in Boston’s historic Theater District at the Emerson Majestic Theatre, Dorchester’s The Strand Theatre, and since 2001 at its own performance space (The Sanctuary Theatre in Harvard Square), the company regularly presents new classical ballets choreographed by José Mateo. Distinguished as the only ballet company in New England with its own repertory of original works, it is the region’s premiere presenter of new ballets. Under the leadership of Mr. Mateo, the company has presented original ballet works and new interpretations of classical ballets, including The Nutcracker.

“Ballet Theatre…is the only classical dance company in New England to perform the work of its artistic director exclusively.  This gives a coherence and purpose to its productions…every step is the work of artistic director José Mateo, an uncommonly talented choreographer whose style of dance is fluid, fleet and streamlined, classicism for the post-Balanchine age.” –The Boston Globe

José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s school has gained an excellent reputation for its comprehensive curriculum, exceptional faculty, nurturing environment, and humanistic approach to high quality dance education for students of all levels, body types, and backgrounds. The school is composed of the Young Dancers Program, with classes for youth from ages 3-18; YouthWorks, a group of student performers ages 13-18; the Young Dancers Intensive Summer Program, training for students ages 10-19; the Elementary Summer Dance Program, training for students ages 3-12; the Adult Program for adults of all ages and levels; and the Teenager’s Introduction to Ballet Program for beginner-level teens ages 12-19.


Dance for World Community (DWC) is a project that harnesses the vastly underutilized power of dance to improve the social and environmental health of our communities locally and beyond. Phase I of the project, launched in June, 2009, employs a Local Partnership Model that creates enduring partnerships across public, private and non-profit sectors to implement outreach, education and leadership development programs for the inclusive engagement of members of the community in a number of dance-based events and activities, the culmination of which is an annual dance festival of performances, instruction, social advocacy, and celebration. Phase II (projected launch in September 2010) creates a new Global Network – a learning community of diverse individuals and organizations – focused on ways to evaluate, improve, and disseminate best practices of the Local Partnership Model as a means of expanding the role of dance to effect social change in local communities around the world.  

DWC responds to the organization’s mission “to reposition the role of dance in our culture and expand its purpose in the education of youth and enrichment of community locally and beyond”.


Not only providing a home for the school, company, and administrative offices, José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s home plays a central role in the community. Through the Art of Hosting Program the site is home to numerous civic events from the Mayor’s annual Kwanzaa party to fundraising events for Sister City Projects in Latin America. The Access to Artist Space program provides below market rehearsal and teaching space to artists working in the community. A Facility Stewardship Program engages members in the community in the care of this historic landmark and constituents are involved in an organic community garden and a green building program. An informal Docent Program and series of Community Open Houses encourage tours of this historic site to many of the 28,000 historic site visitors who explore the facility each year. Collectively these programs engage the youth in our community as activists for preservation, sustainability, and inclusion.

Many features of José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s model are being replicated in the community locally and beyond. For example,

“Bruce Marks, the artistic director of the Boston Ballet from 1986 to 1996…credits Mr. Mateo’s scholarships, ticket subsidies and school performances with leading him to start City Dance, Boston Ballet’s community outreach program.” 

–The New York Times

José Mateo Ballet Theatre is sponsored in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Boston Cultural Council and Cambridge Arts Council.