The 21st Annual World Fireknife Championships will light up the night from May 8-11, 2013, at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii. Competitors from across the globe are readying themselves to battle for the coveted title of World Fireknife Champion.
After a successful live streaming and “People’s Choice Award” launch last year, all four nights of this year’s competition will again be streamed online at WorldFireknife.com for the world to see in real time.
Following the first night of finals on Friday, May 10, fans can also vote online for the new “People’s Choice Award,” recognizing their favorite competitor. Voting opens at 9 p.m. (HST) Friday night and closes at 7:30 p.m. (HST) the next evening on Saturday, with the winner announced at the championship ceremony that night. Voting is open to the public at WorldFireknife.com.
“This year we are thrilled to be welcoming contestants from as far away as Fukushima, Japan,” said Raymond Magalei, PCC Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Each year, these fierce warriors continue to raise the level of competition with their unique skills and finesse in the art of fireknife dancing. They have truly dedicated themselves to preserving this important facet of Samoan culture.”
In attendance this year is the 2012 Junior Champion Preston Weber of Fort Lauderdale, FL; former four-time World Fireknife Champion Mikaele Oloa of Waialua, HI; former World Fireknife Champions Andrew Saxton of Waianae, HI and Pati Levasa of Samoa; and reigning World Fireknife Champion Joseph Cadousteau of Papeete, Tahiti, back to reclaim his title.
The preliminary senior competition will take place at PCC’s Samoan Village on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:30 p.m. (HST), followed by senior semi-finals, open group and Junior Pacific competitions on Thursday, May 9, at the same time and in the same venue.
Beginning Friday, May 10, three senior finalists will move to PCC’s Pacific Theater to take part in a two-night battle for the championship title during intermission of the Ha: Breath of Life evening show at approximately 8:15 p.m. (HST). Friday’s performance of Ha will be followed by online “People’s Choice Award” voting at WorldFireknife.com.
The top three will battle again during the evening show’s intermission on Saturday, May 11. The 2013 World Fireknife Champion will be announced following the conclusion of Ha: Breath of Life at 9 p.m. (HST) with a victory ceremony held in the champion’s honor. At that time the “People’s Choice Award” will also be announced.
Competitors are judged on specific criteria including the vili tasi (one hand spin) and vili lua (two hand spin), among other actions. A full list of criteria can be found in the “Judging” tab of WorldFireknife.com. The “People’s Choice Award” will not be based on the same criteria and is awarded purely on fan voting.
The modern fireknife dance stems from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance performed with the nifo oti, or “tooth of death.” This dance was displayed before battle to frighten the enemy and, afterwards, to celebrate victory. Today, the art of ailao has become one of the most intense, skillful and beautiful of Samoan traditions. The modern version consists of spinning a sharp knife with both ends ablaze at high speeds, and requires acute precision and acrobatic finesse. The fire is very real, and dancers often, and sometimes intentionally, make contact with the flames.
Also on Saturday, May 11, is the 21st Annual Samoan Cultural High School Arts Festival from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the Pacific Theater. Participating high school groups will be judged in categories including Cultural Court, cultural games such as banana peeling, basket weaving, coconut husking, fire making, and various Samoan songs and dances.
Tickets are $10 for adults, ages 12 and up, and $6 for keiki ages five to 11. Kamaaina Annual Pass holders and full-day ticket holders receive free admission to the Samoan Cultural High School Arts Festival on Saturday morning. To join in on the final two nights of competition, May 10 and 11, guests must purchase a reserved seating ticket, starting at $45, to the Ha: Breath of Life evening show each night. Advanced reservations are highly recommended as the event sells out every year.
For more information or to make reservations, visit WorldFireknife.com, or call the PCC ticket office at (800) 367-7060 toll free from the U.S. mainland and Canada, or 808-293-3333.