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Families come together at ‘Nutcracker’ performance

Nico Rosa, 3, of Tewksbury with Santa and Patriots cheerleaders at a Copley Place event .

Cecille Joan Avila for The Boston Globe

Nico Rosa, 3, of Tewksbury with Santa and Patriots cheerleaders at a Copley Place event .

For some families, a performance of “The Nutcracker” is a Christmas tradition; for others, this ballet, any ballet, is exotic and perhaps intimidating, an art form that speaks an unfamiliar visual language.

The Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre wants to bring those audiences together with a production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic that is accessible and sized to fit families, said Scott Fraser, the company’s managing director.

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“Everything’s on a human scale,” Fraser said of the production playing at Dorchester’s Strand Theatre. “It’s a fantastic introduction to a live production for children. Both the theater and the production itself are intimate.”

“The Nutcracker” returns to the Strand for a third year, with a sold-out matinee Sunday, Dec. 22, organized in cooperation with Globe Santa. The program distributed 100 free tickets to Globe Santa families, but that is just part of the ballet company’s effort to give less fortunate children a special holiday experience.

Fraser said the company originally planned to distribute 2,000 tickets through Globe Santa and other nonprofit partners. But after they began running out at the end of October, supporters donated enough for an additional 1,000 tickets to be distributed to Dorchester residents.

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Fraser said this is a big leap from the first two years of outreach around Uphams Corner, when partners had to make a real effort to find families to take the last few tickets.

“It’s really gained traction in the neighborhood,” he said. “This is one of the ways that some families that don’t have a lot are coming together in a community, and to be able to facilitate that is just such a privilege.”

That increasing popularity may be connected to the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s other outreach efforts, which include need-based scholarships for young dance students, partnerships with city dance programs, and auditions for children’s roles in “The Nutcracker” held at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, just a few blocks from the Strand.

Out of nearly 200 children in “The Nutcracker,” Fraser said, about 56 are Dorchester residents, who perform in Duxbury and Cambridge before the production moves to the Strand. He said it is important for diverse audiences to see dancers from many backgrounds and for young people to explore their interest in the arts.

“Not only are they reflecting the community, but they get an opportunity to bring their unique gifts as artists to different places in the community,” he said.

Artists and craft makers from around Uphams Corner also get a chance to sell their work, at affordable prices, at the Strand, and Globe Santa will be there Sunday afternoon to meet the children.

But the main attraction for audiences, of course, is what is on stage.

“They will see glorious artists representing almost every . . . community of Boston, dancing their hearts out, telling a story that’s 200 years old through dance and music,” Fraser said. “It sets the tone for a magical holiday for everybody.”

For more information on the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, visit ballettheatre.org.

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