The Calis, Center Stage!

In the spotlight: the high school performing arts couple.

JIS is the home of many charismatic and experienced teachers, two of which are the power couple Mr. and Mrs. Cali, the heart of our esteemed theater department. Students know them individually as Mrs. Cali, high school theater teacher, and Mr. Cali, high school dance teacher. Together, they complement each other’s dynamics and bring balance to the other; she with for her ferocious passion and he with his calm kindness. But who were they before joining JIS? 

Mrs. Cali comes from a line of educators. Thus it is no suprise that she has always been in touch with her love for teaching. However, it was her theater and English teacher that inspired her to pursue this career. She realize the influence a teacher could have on someone’s life.  Just like that teacher, Mrs. Cali had a passion for both. Struggling to choose between her love for teaching and theater, she double majored in theater and English. With her credentials and skills, she managed to work multiple different jobs until eventually, she found a way to work in both.

“It has really, really hit me… [that] I get to combine [theater and teaching] in a way that I never would’ve thought about.”  

Mr. Cali shares a similar story. He graduated with studies in theater and dance, and later on worked as a performer in New York. 

He toured around the U.S. as the dance captain of Oklahoma the play. His role involved being responsible for managing the choreography and staging. As the shows were at night, he spent his mornings as a tourist, roaming around the city. 

When Mr. Cali choreographs, he takes into account more than just technicality. He ensures that his piece is emotional and has a momentum that will strike the audience.

As someone in broadway, one would often have to work multiple jobs until their “big break”. So just like Mrs. Cali, Mr. Cali had his share of different jobs. That is how the two met, all versions of their first meeting accounted for (it’s complicated).

Mrs. Cali claims that they first met at an opening night party through a mutual friend. Mr.Cali, on the other hand, claims they met while they were working at the same show. They started off with as friends; she thought of him as a little brother she could take care of. As they became more than friends, it was clear that they cared for the other. A week after they “define(ed) the relationship,” and decided to officially date, they made the decision to engage in a long-distance relationship. At the time, there were no smartphones or video calls so they relied on emails and telephones. They persevered and soon enough, from a payphone in a train station from an Italian town called Eliana, Mr.Cali told Mrs.Cali he loved her.

Now, the Calis are the soul of our theater department. They work together with the teachers in the performing arts department (Mr.Davey, high school vocals teacher and Mr. Yandri, high school music teacher) to stage plays, even through the adversity of the past two years and its unforeseen events. 

Their collaboration makes for a product that is creative, meticulously rehearsed, thorough, and ultimately brings out the best of those who star in them — the high quality of their work is clear to their audience. The performing arts department at JIS is like no other in the country. It is for that reason JIS is recognized for their peforming arts.

Last year’s In The Heights production was a difficult journey. Mr. Cali’s struggle was a reminder that although there are situations that look, there may be hope at the end of the tunnel. Mrs. Cali’s experience hand taught her a valuable lesson that the play is about the bonds that come from it, especially after the last two years.

In The Heights was a wonderful welcome for the people involved and an opportunity to form strong bonds with students across grades. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cali are both experienced and passionate in their profesions, making them wonderful teachers and individuals. It is without a doubt that their love for their craft has touched the hearts of their many students. The school, and any future or past student of theirs,  are lucky to have either of them as their teacher. 

Aliyah Pratomo

Should you be interested in watching your friends perform, make sure to check out the upcoming school play, Into The Woods. Not your average fairy tale, the play is a cautionary story about the responsibility of a “happy ending” and about important themes such as integrity, loyalty, love and more. These messages are communicated through its award-winning script and challenging vocal performances.