Cooperstown Central School students have been entering the ballroom at the Otesaga Hotel to the sound of a band playing the foxtrot for 56 years. They are lined up from tallest to shortest dressed in formal wear as they prepare for the big night, a junior ballroom dance called Cotillion.
Some have said they do it because their parents tell them they have.to; others say they participate because it is a tradition. Others have said it helps them become better dancers.
No matter what the reason, the goal is for young men and women in seventh and eighth grades in the Cooperstown School District to learn the basics of ballroom dancing and etiquette. Students attend classes at the Cooperstown Elementary School before dressing up and heading to the formal dance that features a live band. Cotillion is put on by a committee of parents each year. The classes are instructed by Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of children at Bassett Healthcare, and his wife, Karen. This is the 12th year the couple has been serving as instructors.
According to Karen, she and her husband got involved first as chaperones when their daughters participated. She said they served as chaperones for three years and then Joseph was asked to take over for a year when another person stopped teaching.
“The plan was to just do it for that one year,” Karen said. “But one year turned to two and so forth.”
Karen said she was inspired from her involvement to try something new this year. She said she wanted to reinforce the lessons of respect taught while preparing for Cotillion.
The Cotillion instructor invited the girls from this year’s classes and last year’s classes to Mrs. D’s Tea at Templeton Hall.