Before cats entertained us in classical dance, they appeared in ceremonial dance. One of the most colorful dances still performed today is the Chinese Lion Dance dating back 1,000 years to the Ch’in and Han Dynasties (Third Century B.C.). According to the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project (a nonprofit organization created to promote and preserve Chinese and Chinese American history and culture), the lions express happiness and joy, and dances are performed at many celebrations including consecrations of temples, religious rites, business openings and, in the United States, are becoming popular at weddings.
In China, there is a distinction between the Northern Lion Dance and Southern Lion Dance. The lion of the Northern Lion Dance has a shaggy mane, four legs (two people in coordinated movements) with emphasis on prancing legs, is more acrobatic, and its colors include red, orange and yellow. The Southern Lion Dance focuses on dramatic head movements, may have more than two people and movement is coordinated with drums and gongs. The dance is symbolic and the accompanying loud music, firecrackers and lion movements frighten away evil spirits and bring good luck.
Watch video of the Chinese Lion Dance here.