The grand finale for Polynesian revues and luaus, the thrilling fireknife dancer astounds audiences with dazzling displays of athleticism, fire and danger. Taking his inspiration from the Samoan warrior, the fireknife dancer is the highlight of the show, twirling, tossing, catching and throwing a flaming machete at breathtaking speeds.
Resembling a baton, the fireknife itself, called “nifo oti,” replicates an ancient Samoan weapon that features a 14-inch blade with a hook on the end. To add fire, both ends are wrapped with Kevlar or a cotton towel tied with wire, then soaked in camp kerosene (white gas), which burns cleanly and vaporizes quickly. Before the addition of fire, the traditional Samoan knife dancer portrayed the movements of the warrior at battle. The custom eventually evolved into performance art, with the dancer slicing objects in mid-air.