For Immediate Release
FIREKNIFE DANCERS BEGIN QUEST FOR 2016 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
Lā‘ie, Hawai‘i – May 13, 2016 – Eighteen fireknife dancers from around the world lit up opening night (Thursday, May 12) of the 2016 World Fireknife Championships at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).
Competing in the elite Senior Division (ages 18 and older), the fireknife dancers came from Auckland, New Zealand; Fukushima, Japan; Okinawa; Tahiti; Samoa; Anchorage, (AK); Pittsburgh (PA); Orlando (FL); San Diego (CA); Henderson (NV) and Hawai‘i (O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island) to determine this year’s world champion.
Wearing only a traditional lavalava and performing to the rhythmic beat of seven Polynesian drummers, the 18 competitors delighted the cheering crowd with astonishingly acrobatic routines using one and two fireknives.
They performed choreographed routines that combined bravery, strength, dexterity, stamina, and creativity as they twirled the fireknives at lightening-fast speed. The competitors often clutched the fiery ends of the fireknives without flinching, and also calmly balanced them on the balls of their feet while lying on their backs.
Six competitors advanced to the Senior Division semi-finals on Friday night (May 13):
- Kepanipa‘a Damaso, Waikoloa, HI
- Viceson Galea‘i, Lā‘ie, HI (Former Junior Champion)
- Kuinise Leaiataua, San Diego, CA
- Mikaele Oloa, Waialua, HI (Former World Champion)
- Falaniko Penesa, Samoa
- Matuni Vaiaoga, Orlando, FL
Also competing on Friday night is the next generation of fireknife dancers, with the winners in two Junior Divisions (ages 6-11, and 12-17) being awarded.
The 2016 World Fireknife Champion in the Senior Division will be crowned this Saturday night (May 14).
Fireknife dancing draws its roots from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance, performed before battle with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.” Now in its 24th year, the World Fireknife Championships was established by the PCC to showcase this proud Samoan tradition and perpetuate it for future generations to embrace.
The World Fireknife Championships is the main attraction of the PCC’s We Are Samoa Festival, Hawai‘i’s largest annual Samoan cultural celebration. The other featured event is the High School Samoan Cultural Arts Festival on Saturday morning (May 14, 9:00 a.m.) in which Hawai‘i students of Polynesian ancestry compete in traditional Samoan practices and life skills.
For more information about the World Fireknife Championships, please visit www.worldfireknife.com.
For information or to make reservations at the PCC, please visit www.polynesia.com or call (800) 367-7060. In Hawai‘i, call 293-3333.