He has performed, directed and choreographed for countless productions and companies, and is now sharing his experience with others at his Vision Conservatory of Dance and Theater, which recently opened in Wailuku.
“I started dance lessons at the age of 13 and have a strong background in classical ballet and musical theater,” Cardinalli said.
He received a Conservatory Degree in Integrated Theatre Arts from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. After attending the academy, he went on to perform professionally in musicals, stage plays and at other venues around the country before returning home to Maui.
Aly Cardinalli choreographed a grand performance of The Wizard of Oz (left)at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina.
Photo: Maui Freelance Photography
His Maui performances include The Nutcracker, Little Shop of Horrors, Tony N Tina’s Wedding, Broadway Revisited, Music Man, Mystery of Irma Vep, The Wizard of Oz, Godspell, and Midsummer’s Nights Dream.
Now, his teaching, directing and choreography occupy more of his time than ever.
“In my new company, Vision Conservatory of Dance and Theater, my goal is to create a place for performers to feel at home while encouraging them to find their individuality and artistry,” he said. “It is most important for me to educate my students with integrity through expression, class studies, philanthropy and mentoring in a structured, safe and inspiring environment.”
Advanced and specialized courses allow his students to pursue areas of interest that emphasize their independence and initiative.
Students learn to observe, analyze and integrate both theoretical and applied knowledge to prepare for the multifaceted world of dance and performance. Collaboration and teamwork are vital to their success in the performing arts, so Cardinalli encourages a non-competitive atmosphere with the motto, “My gift is not better than your gift.”
“Great talent must go hand-in-hand with kindness and gratitude, as well as the knowledge and skills needed to express oneself on stage,” he said.
While inspiring creativity in others, Cardinalli also offers good direction for life choices. As a graduate of C.W. Post College, he knows the importance of a standard academic degree.
“You must think about your transition career in case of injury or any other life circumstance that may arise,” he said. “Therefore, you should choose a school or city you want to perform in, and take as many academic classes as you can along with musical and dance classes.”
Cardinalli’s heart is notably humanitarian and he believes that philanthropy is simply a part of life.
“Donating time to help raise money for beneficial causes and supporting different charities should be incorporated into all of our lives,” he said.
He and his students are now rehearsing a dance piece about the effects of crystal meth to perform throughout the community.
“We want to give the gift of performing as a means to help organizations or individuals raise funds for just causes,” he said.
Once wheelchair-bound from over-training and over-stretching, Cardinalli believes it is most important to keep performers out of harm’s way by educating them about their bodies. Having experienced injury and recovery, he now teaches prevention.
“I had to learn and transform my own workouts and teachings by combining elements of active isolated and preventative stretching, kinesiology and stress reduction,” he said.
With a wellspring of knowledge in physiology and artistic creativity, Cardinalli offers some resourceful remedies for pain. Demanding performance schedules and continuous classes often produce tired feet and sore muscles.
“My now-famous ‘Salad Bath,’ a mixture of apple cider vinegar, rubbing alcohol, Epsom salt and lavender (check his Website for exact measurements), is a sure thing for aches, soreness and cramping,” he said. “However, you will need to take a bath or shower after this or you will smell like a salad!”
Although Cardinalli works with many different performance groups around the island, he recently recreated a version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the resident choreographer for Maui OnStage. The community received a newly staged and very daunting trick-or-treat performance over the Halloween weekend at the historic ‘Ïao Theater in Wailuku.
“Thriller was electrifying to do,” he said. “Rehearsals were rigorous; however, the cast produced an exhilarating holiday event.”
Cardinalli is also holding classes and auditions for a major Cats stage production. As the director and choreographer, he has lectured about the history, evolution and myth about Cats Behind the Curtain. This Andrew Lloyd Weber “meow-meow” musical featuring small furry animals will be performed with the original choreography.
“I want to tell the story, which is so often lost in this musical,” he said.
The show will run for three weekends in March at ‘Ïao Theater with some special outreach performances as well.
So, let’s get on with the show!