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2006 World Fireknife Dance Competition

The 14th annual World Fireknife Competition is scheduled to take place May 18-20, 2006 at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the town of Laei on the windward coast of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Fire Dance Competition

WHAT: World Fireknife Dance Championships
WHEN: May 18-20, 2006
VENUE: Polynesian Cultural Center
WHERE: Laie, Oahu Hawaii

The competition is heating up again as challengers prepare for the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 14th Annual World Fireknife Competition. Set for May 18-20 this year, more than 40 competitors are anticipated to vie for the title of World’s Best.

The fire starts burning early with the preliminaries of the World Fireknife Competition on Thursday, May 18, in the PCC’s Hale Aloha starting at 7:30 p.m. The field will narrow significantly as only nine can advance to the semi-finals.

Things really heat up on Friday, May 19, as both the Junior Pacific Fireknife Dance Competition and the semi-finals of the adult competition fill the 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-years old, come out each year to learn the techniques of the older participants and show off some of their own skills. Once the junior champion is named, the semi-finalists from Thursday’s competition will vie for their spot in the World Fireknife Dance championships on Saturday.

The crowning and celebration of this year’s winner will take place following the finals of the competition on Saturday, May 20, at the PCC’s Pacific Theater. Each performer will put his skills to the ultimate test during the intermissions of the Horizons night show at both 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

"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."

Galeai started the competition to help preserve the uniquely Samoan tradition of fire knife dancing, while sharing it with the world. In addition to his job at the PCC as a cultural islands director, he also serves as teacher to several generations of fire knife dancers, including his son, Alex Galeai, who is the 2004 world champion; and his nephew and three-time champion, David Galeai.

Competitors only wear short lavalava wraps around their waist and use no protective skin oils while acrobatically twisting and twirling the fire-lit knives at breathtaking speed in positions that frequently brings the flames in direct contact with their hands, feet, back, and mouth.

"People are constantly amazed at the risks they take in performing their routines," said Ellen Gay Dela Rosa, senior manager of promotions and special events for the PCC.

Each fireknife dancer relies on flawless dexterity, perfect execution, undying stamina, and exquisite timing in completing their program. They are judged according to compulsory and technical moves, along with their creativity, pacing, and dramatic interpretation.

Another showcase event of the week is the High School Samoan Cultural High School Arts Festival starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 20. Polynesian students from Hawai‘i high schools and colleges will demonstrate their Samoan cultural knowledge and skills in friendly competitions like basket weaving, coconut husking, banana peeling, fire making, singing, dancing, and oratory talents, all with the beautiful backdrop of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Pacific Theater.

"The Samoan Cultural High School Arts Festival is a wonderful opportunity for young people to perpetuate the beautiful culture and heritage of Samoa," said Dela Rosa. "It’s exciting to see the students get so involved in sharing their culture."

Kama‘aina admission to the events in the Hale Ohana is $8.00 for everyone, with special upgrades available for those wishing to stay and enjoy the Horizons night show. Visitors can purchase tickets starting at just $40. For those interested in getting up close to see the winner crowned, you must purchase a ticket to the PCC’s Horizon night show as the finals are held during the intermission. Admission to the show is $40.00 for adults and $30.00 for children. Annual Pass holders get in free with a reservation, which are highly recommended for everyone interested in attending because the event sells out quickly.

For more information or to make reservations call the Polynesian Cultural Center ticket office at 800-367-7060 or visit the Polynesian Cultural Center web site at Polynesia.com. Within Hawaii, the phone number of the Polynesian Cultural Center is 808-293-3333.

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