Choreographing Community

On a warm day in June I visited a stretch of Massachusetts Ave filled with vendors of franks, Indian food, and of course ice cream. Dancers swarmed the streets as if let out from the nooks and crannies of Harvard Square. They were recognizable by slender posture, leggings, hair up, made-up faces, and that “get me the nearest stage” look.

Outside of the theatre entrance to Jose Matteo Dance and Theatre Company, a man stood smiling, talking, drinking water, observing the electricity in the sunny air. I could see by his demeanor that he lives the outreach way. Something in his posture indicated he was a choreographer – yes of dance – also of human connection. Something told me he was the mastermind of this dance and outreach extravaganza, Jose Matteo himself.

Born in Cuba, Jose Matteo makes his home and community in Boston. He has forged innovated a collection of miracles through his leadership and perspective of a dance company and of the broader community of humanity. He draws dancers, audiences, and collaborators from unlikely places. Affordable, inclusive, evolving to accommodate needs, his work glistens with stories of transformation that defy the odds. It is what I imagine the arts can do – touch the spirit, inspire, bring people together. Beyond pedigree and education – beyond cultural background – it is the great equalizer when a stage offers steps that invite you up.

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