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This month we are showcasing the history of the Polynesian performances that inspire our fire knife dance at Rock-A-Hula! Siva afi, or fire knife dancing is a tradition rooted in Samoan culture that incorporates the Samoan weapon nifo oti, or war knife. Our tribal performers twirl the weapon and showcase other acrobatic tricks that will have you on the edge of your seat as they literally set the stage on fire!

The fire knife dance dates back to the ancient Polynesian demonstration of ailao, which was a Samoan warrior's display of strength using a war club and was typically performed at ceremonial processions. Until the introduction of metal, the war club was originally carved with serrated edges and jagged "teeth," features that distinguished this unique weapon. Later, the club evolved into a machete wrapped in towels on both ends with a portion of the blade exposed, and is the tool that is commonly seen in today’s dances. It wasn’t until 1946, that a Samoan-American knife dancer, Freddie Letuli, added fire to the dance.

These days, dancers can be seen balancing the prop on their feet and even placing the fire on their tongue! At Rock-A-Hula our fire knife dancers, Lafo Brown and Chief Tui, use a modern version of the nifo oti and are sure to light up your evening for an awe-inspiring performance. Come see for yourself as our entertainers close out the show and bring Polynesian culture to life!

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