Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Art Of Siva Afi...

Today, I closely witnessed the Samoan fire dance or the Siva Afi being performed...

The Siva Afi was traditionally performed with the Nifo Oti or a Samoan war club. The dance itself is quite dangerous as the steel of the Nifo Oti heats up considerably. The modern fire knife dance has its roots in an ancient Samoan tradition called the 'ailao, which is a flashy display of a Samoan warrior's skill and prowess through an artful twirling, throwing and catching, and dancing with a war club. 
While this art is regarded as the preserve of men, some colonial accounts talk of women also performing the 'ailao at the head of ceremonial processions - these were usually women from nobility, especially daughters of high chiefs. 
Eventually the club evolved into a machete, which is the most common tool used today in the knife dance. In 1946, Uluao Letuli, a Samoan-American, was inspired by a Indian fire eater and performed the fire dance for the first time in San Francisco. It is said that after watching a fire-eater and baton twirler perform, Uluao wrapped some towels around his knife, borrowed some fuel from the fire-eater, and lit his knife on fire for his performance.
Indeed see the performance first hand was an exhilarating experience!

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