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Tuesday
May102011

World Fireknife Championship on Oahu this week

19th Annual World Fireknife Championship

Polynesian Cultural Center  

Breathtaking displays of flame-fueled, sharp-edged Samoan dancing by competitors wanting the title of World Fireknife Champion.  The four-day competition starts with preliminary performances Wednesday, May 11th, at 7:45 pm at the Hale Aloha on the Polynesian Cultural Center's grounds in Laie.  Semi-finals, duet and junior competitions are at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 12th, also at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  The finals will be held on Friday, May 13th, and Saturday, May 14th, during intermission of the Ha: Breath of Life evening show in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Pacific Theater.  The title of 2011 World Fireknife Champion will be announced at the conclusion of the Saturday show, followed by a victory ceremony to honor the champ. 
 
The fireknife dance’s origins are tied to the Samoan ailao (warrior's knife dance) performed with the flaming nifo oti (tooth of death). The dance was used before battle to frighten the enemy, then again afterwards to celebrate victory. The modern fireknife performance of rapid movements, performed with agility and precision, involves high-speed spinning of a sharp knife, with both ends on fire.  

This years competition includes many skilled competitors from years past.  The champion from the last two years, Mikaele Oloa, will not be competing this year due to competition regulations prohibiting him from competing for a third year after winning two years in a row.  

The annual We Are Samoa, High School Samoan Cultural Arts Festival will be held in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Pacific Theater on Saturday, May 14th, before the final round of fireknife dancing. The festival features student demonstrations of Samoan traditions, with exhibitions in basket-weaving, coconut-husking and fire-making. 

The goal of the nonprofit Polynesian Cultural Center, founded in 1963, is to entertain visitors while preserving and portraying the culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia. The Polynesian Cultural Center has provided financial assistance to students from more than 70 countries during their enrollment at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, based in the Laie area of Oahu’s North Shore region.
 
For World Fireknife Championship ticket information and details about other events at the Polynesian Cultural Center, call at (800) 367-7060 (Oahu callers: (808) 293-3333) or website.

Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center 

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