Etiquette education |

Etiquette education

Youngsters put the gloves on to learn manners, dance in local cotillion class

Autumn Phillips

— Cheri Trousil knows that even if her sons roll their eyes as she corrects their posture or tells them to get their elbows off the table, they will thank her some day.

But even as she works to shape her sons to be successful in their adult lives, Trousil knows there are some things you don’t want to learn from your mother.

Trousil is at the front of a group of parents working to bring a cotillion to Steamboat Springs. Cotillions are courses in formal manners, dancing and etiquette, designed to give young people the social skills needed for high society.

Trousil has two home-schooled sons, ages 10 and 12.

“I wanted them to learn etiquette and manners and dancing, but I realized it would be more applicable if they learned it with their peers,” Trousil said.

Trousil approached the Denver-based Jon D. Cotillions, inviting it to offer a formal cotillion in Steamboat. The organization offered to come to Steamboat if at least 100 children signed up for the class. Already, 97 have registered, Trousil said. The class can take as many as 200 students.

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Cotillion may seem an odd match for a place as casual as Steamboat, but the town’s low-key atmosphere is exactly why it is needed, Trousil said.

“That’s why we live here, but I want my children to be able to go anywhere and have the grace and skills to be comfortable,” she said. “Manners have to be taught.”

Over the course of several weeks, students at Steamboat cotillion will learn table manners, introductions and greetings for every situation and the old-fashioned social graces of the dance floor. They will learn the jitterbug, steps to the cha cha, the waltz, swing dance and variations of the tango and salsa.

“I want my sons to learn how to lead a girl on the dance floor,” Trousil said. “I think it’s classy, cool and attractive. All (my sons) would learn otherwise is leaning against the wall with their arms folded.”

Trousil did not attend a cotillion as a young woman. She grew up in a small farm town in Michigan and had a jolt of reality when she left for the larger world. She learned the rules of behavior during college as an ROTC cadet.

“I wasn’t exposed to any of this,” she said. “The cotillion is about more than which fork to use. It’s about how you stand and how you sit. People notice those things and if you know the rules, you will be a much more confident person.

“A big part of knowing learning social graces is that confidence.”

The first annual Steamboat Springs Cotillion will be held for five Sundays, beginning in May. Cotillion classes are open to fifth- through eighth-graders. Online registration is available at The registration fee for fifth- and sixth-graders is $150. The fee is $175 for seventh- and eighth-graders, which includes a formal dinner June 5. Call Sandra Jones at 870-0476 or Cheri Trousil at 870-8441.

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