Back to dance at school in 2024

This dance activity is a really fun way to get the new school year started.

Perhaps 2024 will start our modern version of the Roaring Twenties?  This is a great way to start your classroom jumping but more importantly beginning comparative writing activities!


The 1920’s were a time of great change in music and dance. 

The 1920 was the beginning of red-hot jazz, with new rhythms and a new sense of optimism after the war was reflected in the fast and energetic new dances. Women felt the beginnings of liberation and cut their hair short into bobs, took off their corsets and stayed out late (thanks to the invention of the electric light).

 Dances like The Charleston, The Turkey Trot, The Shimmy and The Peabody used a wider variety of movements that involved the upper torso with the arms thrown in the air above the shoulder. For an example of how exciting this was visit this site. 

The Flappers, as the girls who danced like this became known, threw their legs in the air and favoured hopping movements, while ‘flapping’ their arms.  This style of dance was made possible by the fashion of the day which saw dresses get shorter and less restrictive.  The fringing on the dressed accentuated the movements and the fashionable long beads where swung as a part of the dance.

Here is a question for your students: Can you think of a time when music and dance may have influenced a modern style of dress? Think about B Girls and B Boys.

The movies from Hollywood and shows on Broadway influenced the spread of these dances much as the internet does these days.  It’s popularity really grew in 1923 with the Broadway show, Runnin’ Wild.  As with most new dances in history, the dances and music from this era was thought to be scandalous by the older generation.  The dancers even touched each other and threw each other around!

Eventually, however, these dances became so popular that they were taught in schools so that young people could go to the dances that churches were holding.  The churches even held dance Marathons where people danced continuously for as long as they could.  The longest was 3 weeks of dancing without a stop!

Josephine Baker, the American/French actress was famous for her amazingly comic renditions of The Charleston.  She rolled her eyes and used incredible amounts of energy as she danced.  She is credited with bringing The Charleston and the dances of the Roaring Twenties to Europe.

Learning The Charleston, one of the most popular dances of the Roaring Twenties, is not difficult and can be taught in class. For instructions and a ‘how to’ tutorial visit this site.  And here is some appropriate music for doing in class entitled Yes Sir, that my Baby.  

Today’s students will see many similarities to The Shuffle started in 2011 and promoted through the song The Party Rock Anthem.  Start this video at 1:11 mins to see a good example of this dance style.   The Shuffle even began a fashion trend in the popularity of Lightning Shoes.There is also a Hip Hop step that is called the Charleston ShuffleFor a ‘how to’ tutorial take a look at this site. 

Comparative writing activity. primary school dance 2020

Use the Dance Elements (Space, Time, Dynamics and Relationships) from the Australian Curriculum: Dance for your specific grade and have students identify similarities and differences between The Charleston and The Shuffle

You can also talk about the difference in dress and music. This is an opportunity for a teacher led discussion about the historic, cultural and artistic differences of the two ‘20’s’eras.

Examples of these dances can be found on this site until 2:30 mins which really shows how racy the 1920’s were.  And this video has that has lots of people ‘shuffling’ in a range of places.

By using dance vocabulary to compare dances you allow students to have the vocabulary to describe movement.  It also encourages the use of descriptive adjectives as they compare the dances.  This may be a way to start your dance Word Wall for your classroom and will certainly develop descriptive writing skills. Looking for fast, simple and creative ways to implement the Australian Curriculum in your classroom this year?   To find out more about Australian Curriculum Dance Resources visit this page.