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A visit to a 1920s dance party. First developed in African-American communities in the USA, the Charleston became a popular dance craze in Europe too, but with a more upright and constrained style. Two women dance alongside each other so you can see these differences in style. No longer constrained to purely partner dancing, the Charleston enabled both men and women to express themselves with 'breakaway' steps. Women sported dropped waistlines and bobbed hair, and exuded flirtatious energy in the high kicks and arm swings of the Charleston.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
4 March 2010

Classroom Ideas

This clip could be used to discuss a particular style of historic dance. The children could watch the clip and then talk about the music, costumes and styles of dances. They could discus how the dancers use their legs to create twisting movements and their arms to almost flap. The two clips from 1900s and 1920s provide such stark social contrasts the children could research what made the earlier dance so formal and the latter period so contemporary for its day. The music moves from the classical to the more modern and the new genre is created by a new set of instruments.

The children could research historically this change in music and again look at the technology that made it possible. Modern rock also has its roots in this music and children could explore how the 'band' music developed throughout the 20th century to become the rock music of the 21st. The children might like to consider how clothes reflect society, exploring how the informal nature of the clothing in this time period was a reflection of the change in society at large. The emphasis on the individual performance and away from the group is another social change and the children could explore this and the societal change that caused this. Do they think this is better or worse? Break-dancing uses a similar form of dance in the sense that it focuses on individuals throughout. Could the children dance in this style where one dancer takes it in turns to 'perform' for the group?