After 12 years, Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky and his wife, Karen, have hung up their dancing shoes and retired from teaching ballroom dance for Cotillion.
The junior ballroom dance is put on by a committee of parents each spring for young boys and girls in seventh- and eighth-grades in the Cooperstown School District. The goal is to learn the basics of ballroom dancing and etiquette. Students attend classes at the Cooperstown Elementary School before dressing up and heading to the Otesaga Hotel for the formal dance that features a live band.
“I passed the torch this year,” said Dutkowsky, an orthopedic surgeon at Bassett Medical Center specializing in the treatment of people with disabilities. “It was the right time to move on.”
Dutkowsky said he resigned at the end of this year’s Cotillion in May. Alma Curtis and her husband, Dr. Matthew Curtis, will be filling the Dutkowskys shoes. Alma Curtis is the owner of Cooperstown Performing Arts and worked alongside the Dutkowskys as a co-instructor for the 2013 Cotillion.
“It was a really good transition because I was there this past year,” Curtis said.
Curtis said she learned much from teaching alongside the Dutkowskys.
“I learned patience with the seventh and eighth graders,” she said.
The young ladies wear dresses that fall below the knee and the young men wear a suit and tie to each practice. The young men are responsible for asking the young ladies if they would like to dance and the young ladies always have to say yes, Curtis explained.
“They have to be prim and proper,” she added. “They become gentlemen and ladies in this environment, which is something that gets lost in this society.”
Dutkowsky was adamant about how important it is to give today’s youth higher expectations because they are more than capable.