The José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Harvard Square will be hosting an open house on Sunday, January 6, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
The ballet theatre, a nonprofit organization that opened in 1986, is the second largest professional ballet company and school in the Greater Boston area. Scott Fraser, the managing director, said the school’s mission is to use dance and ballet training to reach out to the diverse community of Greater Boston. Hosting open houses is one way the theatre accomplishes this mission.
“When the school was founded, the whole premise was to change the face of ballet: who participates, and who has access to that training,” Fraser said.
Julie Hayen Miller, the director of communications, said the school strives to open its doors to areas of the Greater Boston community where ballet is not easily accessible.
“We’re working really hard in Dorchester and those surrounding areas,” she said. “We did a real marketing push and held auditions in September in Dorchester [for The Nutcracker].”
About 60 kids from the Dorchester area participated in the ballet theatre’s 2012 production of The Nutcracker, which Miller said was a very rewarding experience for the school.
“The hope is that some of those kids will continue and become part of our scholarship program and take ballet classes,” Miller said.
The Young Dancers Scholarship Fund provides subsidized tuition for 100 children from low-income families to receive ballet training at the school. Scholarships are need-based, and are not contingent upon previous ballet experience or talent.
Molly Wheat, a former student and now instructor at the theatre, said the school is unique in its diversity and community-focus. She said there is no differentiation between scholarship students and those who pay full tuition, and that as an instructor she does not know which students are on scholarship. She said her goal is simply to show them her love of ballet and impart on them her joy of dancing, not because of where they come from, but because everyone deserves that opportunity.
“Ballet schools have been known in the past as being very competitive and not friendly,” she said. “But not at the ballet theater. Everyone is included and accepted.”
The open house will take place on Sunday, January 6, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the school’s location at 400 Harvard Street. The ballet theatre staff encourages everyone in the community to participate, regardless of any previous dance experience. The afternoon’s schedule includes:
2:00 pm - Level I for girls ages 7 & 8
2:00 pm - Creative Dance for ages 3 & 4
2:00 pm – Pre-Ballet for ages 5-7
2:30 pm - Adult Introduction to Ballet
2:30 pm - Boys Class for ages 8-12
2:30 pm - Story Time for ages 3+
3:00 pm - Performance by YouthWorks (the ballet theatre’s pre-professional troupe)
All classes and performances are free. Miller encourages participants to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. There will also be refreshments and an opportunity to win tickets to the ballet theatre's winter repertory concert, How Do I Love Thee?
For more information, visit the José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s website