Disney’s Newest Star

Seemingly born to perform, Wahiawa native Wendy Calio is the star of the new Disney series Imagination Movers, and her star is rising


From the <I>Imagination Movers </I>episode ‘Bad Hair Day’” ><table width=
From the Imagination Movers episode ‘Bad Hair Day’

Seemingly born to perform, Wahiawa native Wendy Calio is the star of the new Disney series Imagination Movers, and her star is rising

Mesmerized by the San Francisco Ballet, 7-year-old Wendy Calio could not take her eyes off the stage, and more importantly, the prima ballerina. While her mother sat sound asleep next to her, Wendy was captivated and enthralled by the beautiful and graceful movements of the dancer, one day hoping to be that star on stage.

“I always wanted to be a prima ballerina,” Calio says with a smile, reminiscing upon her childhood dreams.“Still, to this day, when I’m channel-surfing, I’ll come across some random ballet on classic arts showcase and have to watch it to the very end before I can change the station,” she says with a laugh. “Sometimes I’ll pretend that I am a prima ballerina and end up knocking something over in the living room or jamming my shin into the coffee table. Ouch!”


While “prima ballerina"may be something that Calio wishes to add to her already long list of talents, she surely doesn’t have to “pretend” to be an actress, singer, dancer and choreographer.

Although they may be dream jobs for many, for Calio, it’s her life.

A local girl,Calio grew up in what she refers to as the “pineapple fields,” otherwise known as Wahiawa, and graduated from Mililani High School. She now lives wherever her work takes her, be it Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, Japan or on tour.

“To be honest with you, home is where the heart is,” Calio says. “It comes with me wherever I go.” Most recently, New Orleans was home base, as she just wrapped up shooting and production for the new Playhouse Disney series Imagination Movers.

Wendy, center, with the national tour of <I>High School Musical</I>” ><table width=
Wendy, center, with the national tour of High School Musical

This week, however, Calio has returned to her roots to help with Mililani YMCA’s annual dance concert. This year’s production, titled Princess Syllabus, will support and promote the Miliani YMCA’s Youth Performing Arts Program. The concert is scheduled for Aug. 16 with two performances at 2 and 7 p.m. at Leeward Community College Theatre. It will feature young singers, dancers and actors from the area along with students of the Performing Arts Program. Calio herself, along with Jeremy Gilbert (her fiance, whom she’ll marry in October), the Sabrina Starr Dance Team and alumnae also will make special appearances.

“I love working with kids. This is something I hope to do every year,” Calio says with a smile. “They’re like sponges, and when I see them improve, it makes me very proud.

“Our show, Princess Syllabus, is exactly that, a lesson plan on being a successful princess.”

Familiar fairytale characters will help instill important lessons, including Don’t talk to strangers, Never judge a book by its cover, Follow your heart, Be true to yourself and Patience is a virtue.

With mom Teresa and foster sister Ashley
With mom Teresa and foster sister Ashley

As director of the production, Calio created the storyline,arranged all dance numbers and choreography, and made sure that stage-direction and set-up were in place to ensure a thoroughly entertaining performance.

“With lots of fun dance numbers and some singing and acting, too, this is definitely a fun show for the family,“says Calio, former director of Sabrina Starr Dance Studios.

“While I was in New Orleans, we were planning and working on preproduction via Internet. The kids learned their numbers from their teachers and the parents bought costumes,“she explains.“Once my plane hit the ground, we had just a little over two weeks to prepare for the show.”

Teresa Osthoff-Cambonga serves as Mililani YMCA’s head of Performing Arts Youth Program and also happens to be Calio’s mother, part-time manager, business partner and No. 1 fan.


“The kids are excited that Wendy’s helping with the show, but they know she will want the best out of them. As for the little ones, they have no idea - they’re too new to the industry,“says Osthoff-Cambonga.

Calio is pleased to see the younger ones participating in the show and really enjoying themselves. She believes performing arts is beneficial to any child’s upbringing.

“It teaches them self-confidence and helps them free their creativity,” she attests. “These are things every child can benefit from. It’s also beneficial for kids to watch performances and observe art as well. An open mind can lead to an open heart, and we need more people like this in the world.”

Calio’s positive outlook on life and apparent optimism have led her to achieve great things. Her bubbly personality and charm landed her the role of Nina on Imagination Movers, set to premiere

 

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