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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fire dancers will compete for world title

Advertiser News Services

Mikaele Oloa won the fire dance title last year. Some 40 competitors are expected at next weekend's championship event.

Polynesian Cultural Center

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The competition is heating up again as challengers prepare for the Polynesian Cultural Center's 14th Annual World Fireknife Competition. Set for Thursday through next Saturday, more than 40 competitors are anticipated, to vie for the title of world's best fireknife dancer.

The preliminaries of the World Fireknife Competition take place on Thursday in the center's Hale Aloha, starting at 7:30 p.m. The field will narrow significantly, as only nine can advance to the semi-finals.

On Friday, both the Junior Pacific Fireknife Dance Competition and the semi-finals of the adult competition take place in Hale Aloha starting at 7:30 p.m. The Junior Pacific Competition kicks off the night, with competitors ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old. Aspiring dancers, as young as 6, come each year to learn the techniques of the older participants and show off their own skills. Once the junior champion is named, the semi-finalists from Thursday's competition will vie for a spot in the World Fireknife Dance championships next Saturday.

Performers put their skills to the test during intermissions of the "Horizons" night show, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The crowning and celebration of this year's winner take place that evening at the center's Pacific Theater, following those finals.

"This unique event combines great athletic skill, unflinching bravery, and ever-present danger to bring out the best in these competitors," said Pulefano Galeai, the founder of the annual competition.

"It is exciting to see the culture of Samoa take center stage with participation from people around the world. We've had competitors come all the way from Japan, Europe and all across America to take part in the festival. This sharing of culture is what it's really all about."

Competitors are judged on compulsory and technical moves, as well as creativity, pacing, and dramatic interpretation.

For more information or to make reservations, call the Polynesian Cultural Center ticket office at 293-3333 or see www.polynesia.com.