The world’s “hottest” international competition, the World Fireknife Championships, will light up the stage at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), May 7-9, to determine the best at this traditional Samoan art.
Now in its 23rd year, the World Fireknife Championships draws its roots from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance, performed before battle with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.”
This year’s competition features 22 entrants in the senior or elite division, including defending champion Via Tiumalu, Jr. of Orlando, FL, 15 entrants in the older junior division (ages 12-17), and 13 entrants in the younger junior division (ages 6-11).
Competitors, especially those in the senior division, will dazzle with displays of fireknife dancing, twirling one, two and, sometimes, three flaming fireknives to a choreographed routine, often while contorting their bodies or laying on their back.
Logo Apelu, PCC chief operating officer, commented, “Fireknife dancing is the ultimate test of skill and athleticism in the Samoan culture. To be truly great at it, a competitor needs to master a combination of power, talent, bravery, and artistic flair in a performance that is both amazing and incredibly difficult. The World Fireknife Championships brings out the very best in a unique contest found nowhere else.”
The World Fireknife Championships is part of the PCC’s “We Are Samoa” Festival, the largest Samoan cultural festival in Hawaii and a showcase of Samoa’s traditions, arts, and heritage. Another featured event is the High School Samoan Cultural Arts Festival, in which hundreds of high school students from Oahu demonstrate their knowledge of Samoan culture.
The PCC will live stream all three nights of the World Fireknife Championships online at https://new.livestream.com/polynesia-live-event .
(photo credit, Polynesian Cultural Center)