November 20, 2018

FOLK/Kids Les Pieds Rigolants, Franco-American folk dancers

Saturday: 2 p.m. Children’s Area; Sunday: 3 p.m. Children’s Area

Les Pieds Rigolants (“The Giggling Feet”) is an ensemble of young dancers from Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, the state’s largest Franco-American community. Their specialty is the percussive dance style of French Canada known as la gigue. Known in English parlance as step dancing, this Quebecois genre is rooted in the Irish jig style from which it takes its name. This is not surprising as Canada’s French settlers borrowed liberally from both the music and dance heritage of the Irish immigrants who followed. The French jigging style, though, is generally more relaxed and “grounded” than the contemporary Irish step dancing made famous by the popular stage show “Riverdance.”

Cindy LaRock, a “Franco-Yankee” native of Lewiston, founded and coaches Les Pieds Rigolants. Larock was recognized as a master artist in the Maine Arts Commission’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in 2004. She is passing on the steps she learned from her mentor, noted Montreal dancer and musician Benoit Bourque. Accompanying Les Pieds Rigolants is a group of young fiddlers, also from Lewiston, directed by Les Pieds dancer Jessie Gagne-Hall. This ensemble was spawned earlier this year by the youth outreach program of a Lewiston-based chapter of the Association Canado-Americaine, which is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of French culture in Maine.

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