Jazz Dance Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Few decades have influenced modern dance more than the 1920s. This lesson plan introduces your students to many of the new dances of the 1920s, as well as the roles that jazz dance played in the social transformation of the Roaring Twenties.

Lesson Objectives

With this lesson, your students will learn to do the following:

  • Discuss different popular dances of the 1920s
  • Analyze the Jazz Age culture and its contributions to the world of dance
  • Analyze the role of jazz within 1920s America


1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Key Terms

  • Jazz Age
  • Turkey Trot
  • Foxtrot
  • Charleston
  • Shimmy
  • Tango
  • Waltz
  • Lindy Hop
  • Jitterbug
  • Flapper
  • Ragtime
  • Jazz
  • Jelly Roll Morton
  • Louis Armstrong


  • Before starting the lesson, review with your class what life was like during the Roaring Twenties. Remind students of the explosion of jazz, economic prosperity, radio, advertising and flappers. Make allusion to works from the period, like The Great Gatsby. All in all, help students see jazz dance as an extension of this period.
  • Watch the lesson 1920s Dances: Styles, Moves & Music.
  • After the lesson, discuss the following questions:
    • Who coined the term 'Jazz Age?'
    • What different kinds of dances came out of the 1920s?
    • What was a flapper?
    • How did ragtime contribute to dances in the 1920s?
    • What role did race play in the Jazz Age? How was it a period of breaking of barriers?
    • In what ways was jazz uniquely American?
    • What role did gender play in the Jazz Age? How did public perception of women start to change?
    • Combined with the success of the women's suffrage movement, was the Jazz Age a response to gender norms as much as race? Explain.
    • What role did jazz play in technology? How was jazz a style that needed radio?

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