Cuban-born choreographer José Mateo is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s 2017/18 Commonwealth Award for Achievement – the state’s highest honor in the arts, sciences and humanities. He is the Founder and Director of José Mateo Ballet Theatre, one of America’s leading producers of new ballets and the area’s most innovative school for quality ballet training, and the creator of Dance for World Community.
For over 30 years José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s highly acclaimed Company has regularly presented concerts of Mateo’s celebrated repertory of original works including The Nutcracker. The School offers an innovative model for a high-quality academy with a humanistic approach to ballet training that fosters diversity and inclusion.
Mateo is also widely respected for his civic contribution as innovator of community programs that broaden the reach of ballet and make dance an effective community building force. He is the originator of Dance for World Community, a project that creates local and global networks to expand the role of dance in communities locally and beyond. He is the producing director of the project’s Annual Festival that “celebrates the connective power of dance to build stronger communities”. The DWC Festival presents over 80 local performance groups, provides free introductory classes in diverse dance forms, and features numerous social service agencies that do advocacy around diverse civic, environmental and social issues.
Mateo holds a BA in Art History from Princeton University where he began his formal training in ballet and modern dance techniques. After a New York-based career as a dancer, Mateo moved to Boston where he worked as an administrator at Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum as he quickly gained a reputation as a prominent ballet teacher and choreographer.
JMBT presentations of his choreographic works have been recognized alongside international touring companies in The Boston Globe’s “10 Best Dance Events” in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2008. He is also a three-time winner of the state recognized artist fellowship in Choreography. Based on civic contributions, in 2005 Mateo was named to the inaugural class of Barr Fellows by Barr Foundation.
Mateo has served as a Director on the Boards of the Boston Cultural Council, the Cambridge Arts Council, ArtsBoston, Boston Dance Alliance, Dance Umbrella, the Victoria Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan, Homelessness Empowerment Project, MASSCreative and the Muniz Academy. He currently serves on the Boards of Friends of Caritas Cubana, Manship Artist Residency & Studios and Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School; and is the Treasurer of the Cambridge Arts Council Fund.
In 2007, Mr. Mateo was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the Hispanic community in Massachusetts in the Poderometro 2007. In 2012, he was recognized as the Dr. Michael Shannon Dance Champion by the Boston Dance Alliance, was awarded the Jorge Hernandez Leadership Award from Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción and received the Cambridge Peace Commission’s Peace and Justice Award. In 2016, Mateo was recently named one of Boston’s 50 Legends and Pioneers by Boston’s Get Konnected.