HOT STUFF : With a Samoan Flaming Knife Dance, This Year's Arts on the Green Really May Have Something for Everybody

Zan Dubin is a writer on the Calendar staff of The Times Orange County Edition

Don't much like opera? Can't cotton to chamber music? Never cared for ballet or modern dance or took an interest in theater? Poetry and painting aren't for you and comedy doesn't cut it either?

Don't despair. There may yet be something to ignite your imagination at Arts on the Green this weekend.

This year, the free, two-day cultural Whitman's Sampler will culminate on Sunday at 5 p.m. with a Samoan Flaming Fire Knife Dance. Tiare Productions, a Polynesian group based in Huntington Beach, will deliver the grass-skirted, drum-beating goods.

Reenacting a ritual of his ancestors, Tupua Seanoa, will display his agility and derring-do with a knife aflame on both ends, which he'll toss in the air, twirl around his body and balance on his tongue.

The flamable feat was originated by "men preparing to become warriors and go off to war," says Portia Seanoa, Tupua's mother, who runs the 15-year-old troupe with her husband, Pete.

About 80 local groups, from students to professionals, will perform on eight stages at the festival, to run from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Town Center Park in Costa Mesa. Polynesia will be far from the only culture represented by dancers and musicians in native or traditional costume.

On tap are such troupes as Angahara & Natyapriya, classical East Indian dancers; the Orange Coast College Afro-Caribbean Dancers and Drummers; the Strathleven Scottish Dancers, the Atesh Belly Dance Troupe, and the Dunaj International Dance Ensemble with dances from Bavaria.

Also scheduled are Opera Pacific, the Pacific Symphony, Ballet Montmartre, and Rules Lure's Contemporary Dance and Jazz Spectrum. For those who enjoy drama, comedy and poetry, there'll be the Black Orpheus Theater, the Marc Weishaus group performing Shakespeare, the Orange County Crazies improvisational comedy troupe, and Laguna Poets.

On top of all that, clowns, sing-alongs, face painting, storytelling and other children's enticements will be offered, about 85 visual artists will exhibit works and demonstrate their techniques, and food and drink from around the world will be on sale.

What: Arts on the Green.

When: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Full schedules and maps will be available at the festival.

Where: Town Center Park, Costa Mesa.

Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the Bristol Street exit, head north to Town Center Drive and turn right.

Wherewithal: Admission is free.

Where to call: (714) 574-8780.

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