ECU students in the group Arrrya Pirates, a seven-person dance team, prepare for the March 5 Down East Talent Search during rehearsal on March 4. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Performers vie for top prize at inaugural fundraiser

March 5, 2015

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Editor’s note: Alana Houston, a 15-year-old from Elizabeth City, won first place and $1,000 for her rendition of “That’s Life,” made famous by Frank Sinatra. Ewan Manalo, a 9-year-old from Greenville, took second place and $250 with a cello performance of “Julie-O.” Bladenboro singer Hayley Hall placed third, singing “Over the Rainbow.” She received $150. The Reader's Choice Award of $100 went to Maria Long, singing "Amarilli, mia bella," by Giulio Romolo Caccini

Four East Carolina University student acts – from soloists to a Bollywood fusion dance troupe –will be among the contestants for the inaugural Down East Talent Show on March 5.

In January, judges narrowed a field of 58 to 22 acts selected to perform at 7 p.m. in ECU’s Wright Auditorium.

Dancers, singers, musicians – even high-kicking martial artists – will be among the contestants in the 90-minute show. Contestants represent the region, hailing from Kinston, Wilson, Wilmington, Columbia, Winterville, Elizabeth City, Greenville, Battleboro and Macclesfield.

ECU accounting major Joshua Branch practices his country music performance for the Down East Talent competition.

Joshua Branch, a senior ECU accounting major from Falkland, will perform “Leave the Night On” by country artist Sam Hunt.

“It will just be me and my acoustic guitar,” said Branch, who has been performing live for about six months. “I hope to get exposure and to make my fellow Pirates proud to be an ECU Pirate like me.” Branch said he likes singing all types of music but modern country feels the most natural. “Country is what I grew up listening to,” he said.

Another act from ECU is Arrrya Pirates, a seven-person dance team performing a fusion of Indian classical, Bollywood, Bhangra and Hip-Hop.

“We entered the contest in order to spread our love of the Indian culture and heritage through our dance,” said Reshma Thomas, captain of the team and a senior from Morrisville.

Arrrya Pirates formed in 2012, although most of the women have been dancing since childhood. The members range from freshmen to seniors, and their majors include biology, business, accounting, public health and others, Thomas said.

“All the members in our team came together due to our passion for dance and we want others to experience that,” she said. “We want people who are shy or who don't dance to be able to at least tap their feet, snap their fingers or clap their hands by watching our performance.”

Another featured talent from ECU will be Trey Scarborough, who will sing “Questo Amor Vergognia Mia” by Giacomo Puccini.
ECU music major Trey Scarborough is competing with a solo performance for the Talent Show.

“I entered this contest in hopes to win scholarship money to pay for a choir competition in Slovenia that the ECU Chamber Singers were recently invited to compete in,” said Scarborough, who started performing at his church in Apex as a child.

Scarborough is a senior music therapy major with a concentration in voice, and a past winner of the ECU Stars competition. “I hope to bring awareness to the School of Music at ECU, and I hope to gain new friends and new opportunities to perform elsewhere around the area,” he said.

Judges LaKesha Alston Forbes, Henry Hinton, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, Pattie Hopkins and Emily Tucker will award three prizes: $1,000 first, $250 second, $150 third. A Reader's Choice Award will be picked by public voting at www.DownEastTalentSearch.com.

Tickets will be available at the door or by calling 252-328-4788 or visiting http://ecu.edu/arts.

The event is a fundraiser for the FRIENDS of the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series, which offers public and school performances as well as master classes for instrumentalists and dancers.

The talent search is sponsored by Cooke Communications, WITN-TV, Barbour-Hendrick Honda, Michels & Gauquie Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, Atlantic Gastroenterology, the little bank and Joe Pecheles.

The Arrya Pirates group practices their dance routine on stage.