Cotillion is known best as a traditional dance.

Many know cotillion as a traditional dance originating in 19th-century France where young women participating are presented to society. However, those who wish to participate in the dance -- boys as well as girls -- are often required to attend classes at a local cotillion chapter. In these classes, students learn not only traditional dance steps, but are taught lessons on etiquette and character. Additionally, many cotillion chapters encourage participation in philanthropic charity events.

Dancing Instruction

Cotillion groups hosting dances often require youths who wish to participate to sign up for cotillion classes. In these classes, thorough dance instruction is given, including steps and dance etiquette. The classes cover traditional dances like the waltz and fox trot, and in some cases, may extend to swing dancing, salsa and shag. Cotillion classes also teach participants what is thought of as proper dancing etiquette, including consideration to one's partner.


Many cotillion chapters also encourage participants to engage in community service. Cotillion organizations run drives to assist nursing homes, hospitals, literacy groups and homeless shelters. Additionally, they sometimes help the military overseas by writing letters. All of these activities are aimed at developing a sense of community involvement and volunteerism in participants. Additionally, many host charity events, like fashion shows, where money raised is donated to local charity groups.


Cotillion groups also aim to teach participants proper etiquette in a variety of situations. Social events play special part in these instructions, and many different group situations are represented, including family occasions, formal dinners and parties. Participants learn how to greet new people, including handshakes, introductions and conversation. Additionally, they are taught dining etiquette, such as table settings and polite eating. The classes also cover many other forms of communication, including written correspondence; telephone, cell phone and online etiquette; and fax, copier and printer codes of conduct.

Character Education

Cotillion classes often include lessons on character education. These lessons may address the best ways to handle peer pressure, how to keep promises and to be accountable for one's actions. They may also include lessons on the importance of honesty, being respectful to elders and peers, and the importance of engaging as a citizen.