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Fire knife dancers may be Hawaii's hottest show. Now they'll compete to see who's the best

Fire knife dancers may be Hawaii's hottest show. Now they'll compete to see who's the best
Bobby King appears to eat flames during one of his fire knife dances. He has performed at Hawaiian luaus and at Hong Kong Disneyland. (Tihati Productions)

Fire knife dancers may be engaged the hottest showdowns coming to Hawaii. The tradition that has its roots in a Samoan war dance will be on display on Maui and Oahu.

Nine contestants will provide plenty of jaw-dropping during the "Sia Le Afi…Ignite the Fire" competition at the Sheraton Maui on April 28 and 29. A panel of expert judges will determine Maui's top fire knife dancer and award a $5,000 grand prize.

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Afatia Thompson creates a swirl of flame as he performs a fire knife dance. Thompson runs Tihati Productions, which provides the entertainment for a number of luaus throughout Hawaii.
Afatia Thompson creates a swirl of flame as he performs a fire knife dance. Thompson runs Tihati Productions, which provides the entertainment for a number of luaus throughout Hawaii. (Tihati Productions)

The World Fire Knife Competition will follow May 11 to 13 at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu's North Shore.

Despite its Samoan roots, contemporary performers have added razor-sharp machete blades and fire to entertain guests at many of Hawaii's popular luaus.

The competitions are, in fact, extensions of two dinner shows, the resort's "Maui Nui Luau" and the cultural center's "Ha: Breath of Life."

Anapogi Tevaga demonstrates his skill as he twirls blazing machete blades.
Anapogi Tevaga demonstrates his skill as he twirls blazing machete blades. (Tihati Productions)

Pulefano Galeai, founder of the Oahu event and Samoan cultural expert, will be among the judges on the Sheraton Maui's spacious lawn, which overlooks Kaanapali Beach and the ocean. Also scoring the contestants will be Ifi Soo, the only person to win the world championship three years in a row (1994 to 1996).

On Maui, seating begins at 4:30 p.m. both days. Admission, which includes a luau, starts at $111 for adults and $63 for children. The show alone costs $39 for adults, $22 for youth ages 13 to 20, and $17 for children 12 and under.

Info and tickets: (808) 877-7627.

Vincent Evalu performs a fire knife dance. The modern-day luau act has roots in ancient Samoan culture.
Vincent Evalu performs a fire knife dance. The modern-day luau act has roots in ancient Samoan culture. (Tihati Productions)

For the World Fire Knife Competition on Oahu, admission to preliminary rounds on May 11 and 12 costs $10. For the May 13 final, guests must buy a ticket to "Ha." Prices start at $59.95.

Reservations: (800) 367-7060

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