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The show also ended happily for Marci Caliendo, who was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award last year for her choreography of the musical at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.
, who grew up in Evergreen Park, has kicked up her
heels as a dancer and has belted out songs and performed in musical productions such as "A Chorus Line," "Babes in Toyland," and "The Velveteen Rabbit," it didn't take long for her
to take her
love of dancing to another level.
"I decided to make the switch from performing to becoming a choreographer a few years ago," Caliendo
'd been teaching dance since she was in high school.She also taught dance at the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, the Dance Academie, the Lou Conte Studio, Dance 4 All and her alma mater, Mother McAuley High School in Chicago.
It was a natural transition for Caliendo
to expand from teaching students how to tap, swing, dance jazz and hoof in contemporary style to showing performers in a musical production how to high-step it across a stage.
"Choreography goes hand in hand with teaching," she
Right now, Caliendo
is choreographing two shows that will go up at Mother McAuley
: "West Side Story," playing July 10 to 12, and "Oliver," playing July 24 to 27.
At the same time, Caliendo
has choreographed "The Little Mermaid" for the Theater for Young Audiences at Moraine Valley Community College Fine and Performing Arts Center
in Palos Hills.The show will play on weekdays and Saturdays through the month of July. Caliendo
said while she
has plenty of experience singing and acting, dancing has always been her
"I started dancing at 2 years old.My mom couldn't carry me any longer because I was a chubby, chunky little kid.She
had been a baton twirler for St. Leo, and she
thought dancing might help me shed some baby fat, so Mom put me in dance class to slim me down."
"In order to be in the dance class, you were supposed to be 3 years old, but I was such a big kid that they thought I was 3 and allowed me into the class," Caliendo
said."Within a year, the dancing slimmed me down.That was the beginning of my lifelong love of theater and dancing.I don't ever remember a time when I haven't been involved in dancing." Caliendo
grew up in St. Bernadette Catholic Parish
but went to public grade school.At age 6, she
was in the children's musical training program at the Beverly Arts Center
.She went to college at the University of Michigan, where she took dance, voice and acting, and received a bachelor's degree in musical theater.
"I was never interested in straight plays," she
said."It was always all about singing and dancing for me." Though Caliendo has made a name for herself as a choreographer, she decided to broaden her career and went back to school at Columbia College, where she received a master's degree in dance movement in 2000.
"I took what I love and gave it a twist," Caliendo
has always been willing to work hard and believes that's the secret to her