World Fireknife Championship Builds to Thrilling Finale at PCC
Laie, Hawaii – May 9, 2014 – The first of two nights of breathtaking fireknife dancing to determine this year’s world champion took place tonight in front of an admiring crowd at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).
The three finalists for this year’s title – Malo Matau of Laie, HI, Falaniko Penesa of Samoa, and Via Tiumalu, Orlando, FL – each gave spectacular performances that were as demanding athletically as they were creative artistically.
Over the previous two nights, Matau, Penesa and Tiumalu advanced from Wednesday’s opening night of 24 competitors through Thursday night’s semi-final round of nine competitors.
This year’s world champion will be decided following the second night of the finals performance on Saturday, with judges combining the scores of both nights to determine the winner. The pressure and skill asked of the three finalists, first just to get this far and then to win the world championship is enormous, as they have to be flawless with their routine while also being innovative and entertaining over two straight nights.
Wearing just a traditional lavalava and backed by the rhythmic beat of 13 Samoan drummers the finalists performed routines that stretched the limits of their strength, stamina and athleticism. They twirled one and two fireknives at blinding speed, often on their back, and tossed them high in the air, all while racing about the 100-foot by 70-foot stage area to build up points leading into Saturday’s finale.
Adding to the pressure of their championship moment is that the finals are taking place in PCC’s magnificent Pacific Theater, which seats 2,700 guests, during intermission of the award-winning Ha: Breath of Life evening show.
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.
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.