Kids take giant leap with small dance steps
The essential keys to table manners, according to Dustin Howard, 9, are, Just don t spill anything and to be polite and not to say inappropriate things at the table. For table manners, you also need to know which utensils are for what. The salad fork is smaller, I think, yeah, Howard said. Howard and many of his classmates are learning these finer points of etiquette through the John D. Williams Park City Cotillion. Cotillion is a social skills seminar, training students from grade four to nine in dance and etiquette. Students meet once a month from October to March at St. Mary s Catholic Church under the watchful eye of instructors and admiring gaze of their parents. Anthony London, 10, enjoys dancing most, which even he thinks is very odd because most people I know don t like dancing. To invite a girl to dance they taught us that you bow down and say may I dance with you and the woman replies yes or no, London continued. He noted that Cotillion is all about the girls. Boys wear suits and ties, girls where party dresses or skirts and white gloves. I don t know why we re wearing them, said Taly Polukoff, 10, said about her gloves. Her friend, Sydney Blake, 11, volunteered that boys hands are sticky and sweaty when we dance. Blair Sisk, 9, said, You can feel it through the gloves. It s nasty. The gloves are because fourth- and fifth-graders can be a little skittish about holding hands when they dance. Older grades don t wear the gloves. Polukoff enjoys cotillion because she gets to meet new people. It s fun hanging out with friends and joking about who we have to dance with, she said. Sisk said, If you dance with someone you do know, you talk about them at school and how they had to dance with you. And stepped on your toe, Polukoff laughed. Blake appreciates learning good manners. Then when you re older, you won t be embarrassed to go to dinner with someone, Blake said. She s learned that you always say please and thank you and be polite and put the napkin on your lap. Cotillion instructor Katherine Mason flies in from Denver to teach kids the Park City once per month, plus two groups of students in the Salt Lake Valley earlier in the week. She emphasized to children the importance of first impressions on Thursday. People treat you differently if you know how to present yourself, Mason said. That s pretty significant because you never know who you re going to meet. When you meet someone new, you should look them in the eyes, bow or curtsy to them, and give them a handshake firm enough to squeeze a tube of toothpaste, to show you mean business, Mason explained. You also shouldn t have your hands in your pocket, Mason said, because people will think you have something to hide. Mickey Moran, 9, said, I like learning how to be polite and treat people better. I like learning to take people around the dance room and give them their food. When you serve a guest food, you re supposed to hand them first a napkin, then their food, then their drink, Moran said, before taking those items for yourself. Laurel Ross runs Park City s cotillion and has been involved with the program for seven years. She realized the need for dance/etiquette training at an Ecker Hill Middle School dance where none of the children knew how to dance and they were all afraid to try. I believe there s a need for (cotillion), she said. It s a fun way to learn etiquette and good manners. Ruli Velarde, 10, said, I think it ll help me 10 years from now because then it ll help me to get a good job so I don t do inappropriate things. Velarde also expects cotillion will help him with college dances. The question remains, of course, who benefits most from cotillion: boys or girls? Boys, Polukoff insists, because they re boys and they re gross. They re usually trying to be cool and stuff instead of learning their manners, Blair said. London disagrees. Girls need cotillion more because they re crazy because they have something twisted in their minds.
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