Curtain Call: Short North's Got Talent
On a sunny afternoon in Grandview, restaurateur Tasi Rigsby and partner John Paul Gronek are working some moves on the polished wood floor of Dance Plus Ballroom.
Hands held, stretching their upper bodies apart using each other as a counterbalance, a black-clad Gronek cuts an angular figure while Rigsby dazzles with a combination of perfect lines, killer legs and cobalt sequins on the dress she's almost wearing.
Rigsby and Gronek, her instructor and partner in amateur competitions as well as Dance Plus' dance director, offered a sample of the samba they'll execute this Wednesday for Short North's Got Talent, a showcase of the skills the neighborhood's merchants have beyond what's seen in stores, galleries and restaurants.
"We were looking for creative fundraising ideas for public art, and we've found that people really like to connect with the personalities of the Short North," explained Short North Business Association director John Angelo. "We thought, wouldn't it be fun to meet workers of the neighborhood in a different light?"
The SNBA put out a call for performers, and Angelo asked a few with well-known outside talents to get involved, such as Rigsby.
As she explained, she started dancing professionally with her family's Greek dance troupe at age four. Her career as co-owner of Rigsby's, Tasi, Eleni Christina Bakery and the Flatiron with husband Kent follows 22 years as a ballet dancer, including time with BalletMet.
In addition to the samba's she's performing with Gronek, Rigsby will also jive with her friend Jacob Neal, who recently moved his salon to the Short North from Downtown. Neal convinced her to try ballroom dancing for the first time almost two years ago, for a fundraiser to fight Alzheimer's disease.
"After two classes, I was hooked," she said.
Heather Leonard from Cameron Mitchell's corporate office, a trained opera singer, was also asked by Angelo to perform. "I'm in the show," he said. "That was my trade-off to get her into the show."
Altogether the SNBA has lined up more than 30 participants for a total of 21 different performances, and although some have professional experience, Angelo stressed that the showcase will represent "varying levels of people going out on a limb."
Alongside seasoned performers such as Rigsby and avant-electro duo titznmilk are people like ZenGenius' Joe Baer, who'll sing and play guitar for the first time before a live audience, and Michael Seacrest of PM Gallery, a neighborhood fixture known for his ornament-filled storefront but not, before Wednesday, for his original songs.
"It's the first time anyone I know will see him perform," Angelo said. "I think it's a great way for the businesses and the community to come together."
E-mail Melissa Starker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Short North's Got Talent
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29
Where: Axis Nightclub, Short North