JUNIOR FIREKNIFE DANCERS LIGHT UP THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
– Matagi Lilo, 9, Wins 6-11 Age-Group Division –
– Hale Motuapuaka, 14, Wins 12-17 Age-Group Division –
Laie, Hawaii – May 9, 2015 – The future of fireknife dancing is in good hands – literally – based on the outstanding performances Friday night (May 8) in the two Junior Divisions of the 2015 World Fireknife Championships.
Twenty-five precocious fireknife dancers, 11 boys in the 6-11 age-group division, and 14 competitors, including three females, in the 12-17 age-group division, dazzled a packed house in the Hale Aloha Theatre of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Wearing a traditional Samoan lavalava and performing to the accompaniment of five Polynesian drummers, all of the junior fireknife dancers showed a remarkable level of skill and fearlessness – even the youngest ones – that went far beyond their years.
Their fireknife routines were creative, challenging and had them twirling one and two flaming fireknives above their head, behind their back, and between their legs. They would stop only long enough to hold the fiery end of the fireknives or lie on their backs to balance them on their feet.
Most importantly, each of their performances was a proud tribute to this athletic form of Samoan cultural artistry.
Winning the 6-11 age-group division was Matagi Lilo, age 9, of Kapolei, HI, with Hale Motuapuaka, age 14, of Aiea, HI, winning the 12-17 age-group division for the second straight year. All Junior Division competitors received prize packages, with the top three presented special fireknife-themed trophies.
Results: 6-11 Age-Group Division
1ST Place: Matagi Lilo, 9, Kapolei, HI
2ND Place: Isaako Milford, 9, Orlando, FL
3RD Place: Mose Lilo, 7, Ewa Beach, HI
Results: 12-17 Age-Group Division
1ST Place: Hale Motuapuaka, 14, Aiea, HI
2ND Place: Jeralee Galeai (Female), 14, Laie, HI
3RD Place: Achilles Tafiti, 16, Laie, HI
Senior Division Semi-Finals
The seven semi-finalists, who advanced from Thursday (May 7) night’s opening round of 19 competitors in the elite Senior Division (age 18 and older) also took to the stage Friday night to determine this year’s finalists.
The competition was close and compelling and featured four former World Fireknife Champions. The three finalists, all former champions, chosen by the judges to vie for the honor of being the 2015 World Fireknife Champion are as follows:
Joseph Cadosteau, Tahiti (Former Champion)
Mikaele Oloa, Waialua, HI (Former Champion)
Via Tiumalu, Orlando, FL (Former Champion)
The finals take place Saturday night (May 9) during intermission of the PCC’s award-winning Ha: Breath of Life evening show in the Pacific Theater. For more information or to make reservations, call the box office at (808) 293-3333 or visit www.polynesia.com.
Now in its 23rd year, the World Fireknife Championships is the featured event of the PCC’s annual We Are Samoa Festival, Hawaii’s largest Samoan cultural celebration. Another special event, the High School Samoan Cultural Arts Festival takes place Saturday morning (May 9, 9:00 a.m.), with students from five Oahu school teams competing in a series of traditional Samoan practices and life skills.
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.” The PCC established the World Fireknife Championships to showcase this treasured Samoan tradition and perpetuate it for future generations to embrace.