Scene & Heard by Heidi Kurpiela

Scene & Heard 12.16.10

Posted December 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

by Heidi Kurpiela

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+ Sarasota elf resumes YouTube shenanigans
Don’t tell me you thought the Sarasota Elf wasn’t going to show his impish face this Christmas.

After charming almost every performing-arts organization in Sarasota, not to mention the hearts of downtown merchants and pretty female barflies, the elf (aka actor Joey Panek) ditched his velvet suit for more respectable wire-rimmed glasses and preppy polo shirts for his gig as The Art Whisperer.

Although we love the Art Whisperer, the Sarasota Elf is undeniably cuter. And we think the elf’s 1,574 Facebook fans agree.

Well, good news for elf groupies: The man in green is back. He was spotted last week cavorting with shoppers at Whole Foods and lurking in alleys in the Rosemary District.

Finally. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … in Sarasota.

Below: Joey Panek dusts off his favorite green leisure suit.

+ ‘DWTS’ pro to bust butts at Empire Ballroom
Sarasota dancer Sid Pocius continues his ballroom blitz with another guest appearance by a “Dancing With the Stars” celeb.

Last month, the 34-year-old Pocius celebrated the opening of his new dance studio, Empire Ballroom, by dancing cheek-to-cheek with friend and DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff.

This month, Pocius is rolling out the red carpet for Louis Van Amstel, three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and another longtime DWTS star cast member.

Van Amstel will preview his popular Cardio Ballroom fitness class at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at the new Rosemary District studio, located at 1370 Blvd. of the Arts.

The program, which Van Amstel is currently franchising, has already garnered a loyal following in Los Angeles and the star’s native Holland. The class will be offered at Empire Ballroom on a full-time basis beginning in January.

Hey, if you can’t dance with a star, you might as well dance like one.

To reserve your spot for Saturday’s preview, call 704-7613 or visit

+ Tori Sparks comes home for the holidays
In case you missed Sarasota native Tori Sparks’ spectacular hometown performance last December, the 26-year-old singer/songwriter will return to her roots again this weekend to perform her fourth annual Holiday Hometown concert Sunday Dec. 19, at Tijuana Flats.

The free show, hosted by the Tex-Mex restaurant chain, has become a ritual for many of Sparks’ local fans and former Pine View School classmates.

The singer’s third album, “The Scorpion in the Story,” co-produced by indie rock veteran David Henry (R.E.M., Ben Folds, Cowboy Junkies) was called a “knockout” by The Village Voice and helped land the bluesy folk rocker on the roster for next year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas.
A Nashville, Tenn., resident, Sparks, recently announced plans to move to Barcelona, Spain, where she’s becoming a household name.

We urge you to hit up Tijuana Flats this Sunday. Order a chimichanga and don’t miss this opportunity to see a home girl on the rise.


‘The 39 Steps’: Florida Studio Theatre’s vintage Hitchcock-meets-Monty Python spy thriller stars Michael Frederic, Letitia Lange, Curran Connor and Sheffield Chastain. We dare you to keep track of the four-member cast as they play more than 150 characters. Based on the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, “The 39 Steps” runs through Feb. 6, in the Gompertz Theatre.
For tickets, call 366-9000 or visit

‘An Evening with Frank Wildhorn & Friends’: Don’t let the “Bonnie & Clyde” excitement die down. The Asolo Repertory Theatre’s “An Intimate Evening with Frank Wildhorn & Friends” (8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21) is a celebration of the “Bonnie & Clyde” composer’s greatest hits, featuring performances by Rob Evan, Laura Osnes, Marlyn Sanches and Jack Murphy — and, of course Wildhorn, at the piano. For tickets, call 351-8000 or visit

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