Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of JDW Social Education Programs®?

JDW Social Education Programs are designed to create a sense of confidence, character and leadership in every student through dance and social education.

Are the JDW Cotillions just dance classes?

JDWC is a social education program that uses dance as a tool to teach social and character skills not normally covered in school. Through our classes students learn to be comfortable with themselves and others, communicate better, and develop respect and self-confidence. Cotillion develops positive, healthy habits that offer long-term advantages and opportunities in developing relationships.  It is not about “punch and cookies.”

How do you select your instructors? What are their qualifications?

All JDWC Instructors are college graduates who go through a rigorous training process before they begin instructing classes solo. Instructors not only teach at the elementary and middle school levels, they also work with students in high school, college and executives in corporate America.

At what age do you recommend that students begin Cotillion?

JDWC frequently consults with psychologists concerning our program development. They have told us that children start learning social skills at birth and continue throughout their lives. For cotillion they agree – the earlier the better, because children need good social skills in order to succeed in any relationship. Based on their recommendations, classes in some of our communities begin in the third grade; others begin in the fourth grade. At this age inhibitions with the opposite sex are replaced by respect, consideration and confidence. Cotillion provides a healthy, structured environment where students learn good habits on how to be respectful and considerate of one another. 

What should I consider in selecting a social skills program for my child?

The same questions you might ask when selecting an academic environment for your child will work equally well in selecting an appropriate Cotillion program. We suggest that you look at the following criteria:

  • How long the organization offering the program has been in existence.
  • The qualifications and experience of their instructional staff.
  • How the curriculum is organized and instructed.

JDW Cotillions has been instructing Cotillion programs since 1949. All of our instructors undergo a rigorous three-year certification process before earning the title of Cotillion Director. Additionally, all instructors must be re-certified annually through a series of interviews, exercises and proficiency tests. Finally, in our Cotillion programs we balance our instruction proportionately between social education and social dance. Dance is integrated into each class as an important instructional tool which breaks down inhibitions, teaches physical respect, develops confidence, establishes teamwork and cooperation and reinforces the underlying social skills concepts in a structured and healthy environment. To learn more about our curriculum, visit our curriculum page.

Are children in the 3rd-4th grade cognitively able to retain the skills they learn in Cotillion?

Yes, they will remember most of what they learn in class. Of course, parents will want to reinforce these social skills. Additionally, we have found that children retain different concepts at different ages, so continuing classes from year to year offers wonderful reinforcement.

What are the emotional/social benefits for a student participating in cotillion?

Most children participate during those awkward years when girls are taller than boys, boys' voices are changing, and feet seem bigger than their bodies. Being in a healthy, structured environment where students learn how to be respectful and considerate of one another, offers tremendous emotional and social benefits for the participants.  Further, our instructors make the classes both interesting and fun, so the students are active and engaged while they learn important concepts through dance.

Are the children’s inhibitions with regard to the opposite gender broken down in a way that is safe and healthy for them through this program?

The JDWC programs are based on teaching courtesy and respect, and that includes appropriate ways to interact with the opposite sex. Through dance and etiquette instruction, we provide safe situations where members of the opposite gender can interact, thereby increasing comfort and self-confidence.

Are your Cotillion programs inclusive, and how do you address the issue of diversity?

Since inception JDWC has maintained a strict policy of inclusion, supporting diversity in all our programs. On a nationwide basis, our "open door" policy includes students who represent a diversity of races, cultures, ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, lifestyles, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Because we strongly abide in the belief that early lessons in social skills hold a lifetime of value for all children, JDWC contributes over $80,000 annually in scholarships, membership discounts, school and charity auctions, service and cash contributions. The very core of our social skills education is based on kindness, courtesy, consideration and respect for all people and it is imperative we model these values in our practices.

It should be noted our only registration limitation is determined exclusively on a first-come, first-served, based on class size and boy-girl ratios.

What life skills can my child learn at Cotillion that they can’t learn in school?

Academic teachers have very little class time available to talk about respect, courtesy and consideration, topics that are just as important as any academic subject these young people will ever take. Cotillion provides the appropriate venue to instruct students in these areas. Cotillion teaches students how to introduce themselves appropriately, the importance of dress and appearance, as well as the basics in table manners and etiquette. In truth, students without this knowledge may lack the confidence to succeed when it comes to the real world. Cotillion ensures your child will have the tools they need to feel confident in any situation.

How can this course enhance my student’s credentials for higher education and employment?

Both SSE – Social Skills Essentials and ACP – Advanced College Preparation courses are designed to work with students on skills specifically advantageous for high school and college. Subjects include: First Impressions, Interview Preparation, Volunteerism, Character & Codes of Conduct, Dining Etiquette & Hospitality.

What is the significance of social dancing for these young people?

Social dancing is a wonderful way for the students to break down inhibitions about the opposite gender and feel confident in a fun and safe environment. Social dancing allows the students to work as a team as they learn the basics in rhythm and footwork.

Is the Cotillion a one year program?

JDWC has developed a comprehensive program that is updated annually, with an emphasis on working with students based on their experience, individual development, ability and progress. Over 80% of our students wish to participate on an annual basis. Additionally, we have found that children retain different concepts at different ages, so continuing classes from year to year offers wonderful reinforcement.

How does your program differentiate curriculum between grade levels?

Each level of Cotillion is specifically designed for a given age group. All of the activities and dances are progressive from year to year. The social education in the younger grades will focus primarily on First Impressions and Common Courtesies while the older students will explore topics like Volunteerism and Character & Codes of Conduct.

Dance instruction for the youngest students focuses on the basic steps of the foxtrot and swing hustle, while the students in 6th - 8th grades will learn more complicated dances like the tango and jitterbug with the intermediate and advanced patterns of the dances taught in the younger levels.

Why do the girls have to wear white gloves?

Requiring girls to wear gloves in Cotillion is not based on any kind of social requirement, propriety, or fashion statement. Rather the purpose of wearing gloves is to make our students feel more comfortable holding hands and dancing with one another. Over the years it has been our experience, and the experience of our students, that gloves reduce tensions and make dancing a more physically uninhibited and pleasurable experience, especially in our younger classes. In addition, gloves help deter the spread of illness.  Our older students are not required to wear gloves.

Why don't you use name tags for your students so they get to know one another and the Chaperones?

We emphasize to our students that it is their responsibility to take the initiative to introduce themselves to other students and their chaperones without the artificial aid of name tags.

In a typical situation, when meeting new people, they will not have name tags for reference. Accordingly, we believe that young people should learn and practice introductions based on a typical or natural situation.

Aren't curtsies and bows a little bit old fashioned?

Our position is that young people should at least know how to curtsey or bow, then determine to do so or not, based on the circumstances.  From 3rd through 5th grades, we teach an informal, very slight curtsey to the girls and a slight bow to the boys in addition to the always mandatory handshake. We tell them that a curtsey and a bow is a courtesy, a form of acknowledgment, and a gesture of respect. From the 6th grade forward, we teach the girls and boys only the slight bow.

We instruct our students to use their own judgment in regard to whether they choose to curtsey or bow, i.e. when they meet adults or older people. We also tell them it could be perceived as somewhat antiquated, unrealistic, not too cool, and may lead to a potentially embarrassing situation if practiced when meeting peers.

If my child has a learning/physical disability can they still participate in Cotillion?

Absolutely! Over the years JDWC has worked with countless children with physical or learning challenges, which has been rewarding for the instructors as well as for our students.  We request that parents contact us in advance of the classes to discuss any special requirements. In addition, we encourage one of the parents to come with their child for the first one or two classes to make sure that their child’s cotillion experience is productive and enjoyable. 

Is Cotillion a sport?

Yes!  While Cotillion is not an official Olympic sport,  we tell our students that dancing is not only a form of art, an entertainment and an inherent part of all cultures – it is also a sport that involves coordination, athletic ability and teamwork.

Can or should parents attend Cotillion classes?

In addition to the Final Party where parents will be invited to dance and participate in the program with their children, we encourage parents to observe one or more of the classes, as long as space permits.

Are social amenities contagious?

Contrary to popular belief, having good manners can have a contagious effect and influence others. Having good manners and being able to properly present one‘s self is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in today's increasingly competitive society. It enables individuals to feel comfortable with themselves and others, to communicate better, and to prepare for developing positive relationships in school, in college, and in their future careers.

Why don't you teach your students the dances they do in school, or see on television and in the movies?

The physical interaction associated with partner dancing provides a unique opportunity to develop teamwork and cooperation skills.  Free form dancing, on the other hand, is a unique expression of personal style which cannot be taught.  We encourage students to use both partner and freeform dancing for their enjoyment. 

Are younger siblings invited to Cotillion classes?

We enjoy seeing younger brothers and sisters of our students at the Cotillion classes, however, we would appreciate that younger siblings (future Cotillion members) be supervised by the parents if they attend. It is the objective of the instructors to focus all of their attention on the students that are registered in the class, and have our students focus all of their attention on their respective partners and instructors. It is a tradition at our Final Parties that younger siblings who attend participate in refreshments and a dance or two. Please note that some facilities and local committees have a policy discouraging younger siblings from all but the Final Party.

If I have a complaint, who should I talk to?

If you have a complaint or a question, please refer it to one of the instructors, your chairperson, or call our office at 303-757-5333 to report the incident.

When you have extra girls, why don't you let them dance with each other?

The reason that we do not have students of the same sex dance together is because we teach the social skill of "cutting in". This mixes up the dance floor and allows students to have more than one partner. It is an equal opportunity world; when there are extra boys they are instructed to cut in, and when there are extra girls they are similarly instructed. Changing partners throughout the class is one of our priorities.

What do you do if there are more girls than boys in the classes?

Our committees do their very best to have an equal number of girls and boys.  When there are extra girls or boys (believe it or not it happens more frequently than you would think), they are taught how to politely "cut in." In addition, both boys and girls have the opportunity to ask the opposite gender to dance, regardless of the boy/girl ratio.

How do you choose your music?

Painstakingly!  JDWC uses music from the 1920s through the new millennium, including classics and the latest TOP 100. We review every selection and choose music based on (1) appropriate lyrics, (2) rhythm, i.e. ability to translate into the specific dances we teach, (3) different styles to cultivate music appreciation, and (4) popularity based on national sales. We do our best to find appropriate selections that our students will identify with from traditional to contemporary artists.

Do you give refunds?

In all Cotillion invitations and on our terms posted on our website it specifically states that there are no refunds with the exception of extraordinary circumstances, in fairness to the students who are placed on waiting lists.

What do you do if you have a disciplinary problem with a student?

In the rare occasion that occurs, we enter into a contract with the student, pointing out the behavioral problem(s) and expected improvement. If this does not appeal to their better judgment, we then contact the parents. Behavioral problems are very rare in the cotillion classes.

How can my son or daughter become a student assistant?

We are very proud of this program! Our student assistants receive compensation and letters of recommendation – which they use for college and career. If your son or daughter would like to become a student assistant, click (here) to apply online.