Laie Lights up with Opening Night of World Fireknife Championships
Laie, Hawaii – May 8, 2014 – Twenty-four fearless, creative and supremely skilled fireknife dancers – 23 men and one woman – including some of the world’s best lit up the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) on opening night (Wednesday, May 7) of the World Fireknife Championships.
The 24 competitors came from Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, California, Orlando (FL), Pittsburgh (PA), and Fukushima, Japan and were entered in the elite Senior Division (ages 18 and older).
Wearing only a traditional lavalava and energized by the loud, rhythmic thumping of 10 drummers, the fireknife dancers displayed an amazing combination of speed, dexterity, strength, acrobatics, stamina, and unflinching bravery in twirling, tossing, catching, and grabbing the fiery ends of the fireknives. The sold-out audience cheered wildly.
Nine competitors advanced to the Senior Division semi-finals tonight (May 8):
Osmond Atonio, Samoa
Tuika Faumuina, Pittsburgh, PA
Kuinise Leiataua, Honolulu
Malo Matau, Laie, HI
Mikaele Oloa, Waialua, HI
Falaniko Penesa, Samoa
Nakaya Suguru, Fukushima, Japan
Via Tiumalu, Orlando, FL
Matuni Vaiaoga, Orlando, FL
Also competing tonight will be the next generation of fireknife dancers in two Junior Divisions (ages 6-11, and 12-17), along with an entertaining, choreographed team competition, including a women’s group of fireknife dancers.
Now in its 22nd year, the World Fireknife Championships is a highlight of PCC’s annual We Are Samoa Festival, Hawaii’s largest Samoan cultural celebration and a pre-eminent showcase of Samoa’s traditions. The competition to determine this year’s World Champion continues nightly through Saturday (May 10).
Fireknife dancing originated from the traditional Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance, performed before battle with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.” PCC established the World Fireknife Championships to showcase this treasured Samoan tradition and perpetuate it for future generations to embrace.
Each night of the World Fireknife Championships is being live streamed online at http://new.livestream.com/polynesia-live-event.
For more information on the World Fireknife Championships, please visit www.worldfireknife.com.
About the Polynesian Cultural Center
Located on Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is the only cultural tourist attraction of its kind in the world and a favorite of all visitors to Hawaii. An engaging, interactive celebration showcasing the people, culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia, the PCC has entertained more than 37 million visitors from around the world in its first 50 years (1963-2013). A non-profit organization, 100 percent of PCC’s revenue goes to daily operations and to support the education of its student-employees from neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii.