TURNER – Benoit Bourque, one of French Canada’s most popular entertainers, is inviting area residents to join him for an old-fashioned Franco house party next Wednesday, May 26, at the Leavitt High School Auditorium in Turner.

The event is set for 7 p.m., and carries an admission fee of $5, with a special two-for-one rate for any student, from elementary up through college age, who comes accompanied by a grandparent, great-grandparent, or great-aunt or -uncle.

“We really want this to be a multi-generational affair,” says Leavitt High School French teacher Christine Marcous, whose French language students will be treated to in-school workshops by Bourque on Wednesday and Thursday.

Although he attracts most attention as a dance artist – both as dynamic giguer (stepdancer) and a respected teacher and caller of quadrilles, contredanses, and other traditional Quebecois social dances – Benoit Bourque is also a singer and multi-talented instrumentalist, accomplished on accordion, percussion (bones and spoons), mandolin, guitar and recorder. Those gifts, combined with his distinctive Quebecois joie de vivre, have earned him a reputation as an “entertainer extraordinaire,” both in his native Canada and throughout the U.S., where he has captured a 2004 Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent to a Grammy, for their debut CD.

For his local appearance next week, Bourque will be joined on stage by a motley group of Franco-American folk musicians, all Mainers who specialize in performing the lively “jigs and reels,” fiddle tunes that kept their Franco forebears carousing through the night at family gatherings.

As is traditional at a house party, the program will be eclectic and informal, with lots of room for spontaneity, says Marcous, “There certainly will be jiggling on the stage, and I expect to see dancing in the aisles as well.”

The event is co-sponsored by Chapter 52 of the Association of Canado-Americain, based in Lewiston, with all proceeds going to their newly established youth cultural enrichment fund.

Advance reservations may be made by calling ACA cultural outreach coordinator Cindy Larock at 782-0386. Seating is first-come, first-served; the doors will be open at 6:30 p.m.

Leavitt High School is located off Lower Street, just south of its intersection with Route 117.

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