OAK BROOK, Ill. – The National Fraternal Congress of America has recognized Cynthia Larock, a member of ACA Assurance, Chapter 52, Dr. Paul Fortier Chapter, in Lewiston, Maine, as a Fraternal Most Valuable Participant for the week of Oct. 30.

Fraternal MVPs are “Fraternalists-in-Action” who volunteer their time and energy to strengthen their communities through participation in local lodge activities and other charitable endeavors.

“The NFCA wishes to salute those individuals as true fraternalists,” said board Chairwoman Janice U. Whipple. “As a Fraternal MVP, Cynthia Larock embodies the heart of fraternalism through her hard work, dedication and generosity.”

For several years, Larock has served as her ACA chapter’s public relations coordinator. She is particularly committed to preserving and promoting traditional French Canadian music and dance among Franco-American youth.

Toward those ends, she has organized numerous ACA-sponsored arts events to raise funds to support the establishment of a teen fiddle ensemble in Lewiston, which performs old-time Quebecois jigs and reels under the direction of Maine folk musician John Cote, whose own family roots are in Quebec.

Larock herself is an experienced folk dancer who has learned French Canadian stepdancing (la gigue) and social dancing (la contredanse and la quadrille) from such respected Quebecois artists as Pierre Chartrand, Normand Legault and Yvan Gagne.

In 2004, after being awarded multiple apprenticeships with Montreal master dancer Benoit Bourque through the Maine Arts Commission’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, she was designated as a master traditional artist by the commission. In this capacity, she passes the Franco dance traditions along to other younger Francos in Maine in order to keep those endangered cultural treasures alive for future generations.

Five years ago, Larock founded the youth folk dance ensemble, “Les Pieds Rigolants,” which she continues to coach and direct in performances throughout Maine and beyond, including appearances at the American Folk Festival and the National Folk Festival in the U.S. and La Gigue en Fete in Ste. Marie de la Beauce.

She has taught a course, “New England Folk Dance: The French Connection,” as part of the arts and humanities curriculum at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, where she served for many years on the advisory board for the college’s Franco-American archives.

She also was active with Lewiston’s Festival de Joie and continues to volunteer with several cultural and educational organizations in the community while working full-time as administrator for a new cultural learning center at the Lewiston Public Library

ACA Assurance (formerly known as Association Canado-Américaine) is a fraternal benefit society founded in 1896 in Manchester, N.H., by immigrants from Québec, most of whom worked in the textile mills. In organizing ACA Assurance, its founders wanted a society that would express their pride as French-Catholics and build solidarity among the immigrants to improve their standard of living and their lives. For more information, visit www.aca-assurance.org.

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