Junior Cotillion

Class members display their dancing skills.

It’s almost time to break out the ball gowns and sharpen those social graces.

The Johnson City chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillions is hosting an informational session for parents of rising fifth- through eighth-graders on April 25.

It’s about life skills

“It’s a manners, and etiquette and social dance class,” said Anne Littleford, director of the NLJC Johnson City chapter. “So we do five classes, instructional classes, and then we do two balls where they practice what they’ve learned.”

The cotillion training is broken up into two years. In year one, students are taught basic manners and etiquette such as how to properly shake hands, open doors and pull out chairs for others, make eye contact and make introductions.

“It’s such a rich curriculum,” Littleford said. “It’s fabulous. It’s all about teaching them life skills, and there is a leadership component too.”

Sports etiquette, a mock interview and social dances

In year two, students take five classes and attend one ball and an instructional dinner. Second-year students are taught new lessons such as sports etiquette, they are given a mock interview and expound on the lessons taught during the first year.

Students are also taught social dances, such as the foxtrot, the shag and the waltz, and have the option to practice those at the balls held during the course.

The courses, balls and instructional dinner are all held at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City.

“They behave so beautifully,” Littleford said. “It’s like when you put them in an atmosphere that is proper and polite, they too become proper and polite.”

After year two, students who enjoyed the cotillion program may be able to return as a volunteer assistant to the program.

COVID-19 precautions

Cotillion classes begin in September and go through March. Littleford said the classes have been able to host about 50 students in the past, and she hopes to be able to continue hosting about 50 students in the new cotillion season despite taking COVID-19 precautions.

“What I will be looking at is the square footage of the ballroom, and how many students I can safely fit in it,” she said.

Littleford was a teacher and administrator in the Johnson City School System for 39 years before retiring two years ago. She became familiar with the NLJC after her children attended cotillion classes.

After retirement, Littleford decided to buy the Johnson City chapter of the NLJC.

Lessons learned, lessons applied

Littleford said her children used their cotillion lessons long after their classes were finished.

“When my boys did cotillion with Mrs. Cox, my oldest admitted that when he got into college, he used the information he had learned in cotillion at dances and at interviews and weddings, and the youngest boy loved it so much he was actually an assistant for junior cotillion once he got to high school,” said Littleford.

The informational session for parents will be held both in-person at the Carnegie Hotel and virtually at 2 p.m.

For more information, parents can email Littleford at anne.littleford.nljc@gmail.com or visit the website at www.nljc.com/chapter/johnsoncitytn.