3 September 2013
We watched the fire dancing competitions this evening - WOW! (No photos except the ones from our first day, at the info center.)
Imagine a teenage boy or
young man, somewhere between age 13 and 19, getting up on stage with a
metal stick, each end wrapped in linen soaked in kerosene. One end is
lit. The other end will catch fire from some kind of fancy trick he
does - and the more audacious the trick, the more the crowd will cheer.
So some guys put kerosene in their mouths, touch the lit end to their
mouth, and quickly light the unlit end WITH THE FIRE IN THEIR MOUTH!!!
Then - something between baton
twirling at warp speed, breakdancing, acrobatics, juggling, and
cheerleading - the dancer twirls the lit baton until it looks like a
wheel of fire. He keeps doing that while dancing, doing one-handed
cartwheels or flips, maybe he lays down on the stage and twirls over his
head, or he rolls across the stage keeping that baton twirling!!!
And then - just in case that
wasn't enough - the second part of each individual routine is with TWO
burning sticks - and of course, there are unique ways to light these.
Double twirling at hyper speeds, sometimes two sticks in one hand or one
in each hand, more acrobatics, some juggling of these fiery batons, and
then they link the two (the ends are interlocking hooks) so now they
have a double-length baton to twirl and swirl and jump over and, just,
contestants were the finalists in two age groups, the young teens and
then the older teens. A few were previous years' champions. They were
ALL amazing! Incredible!!
Did I mention they all balance the burning stick on their bare feet? Uh huh, they do! Sometimes they twirl the burning baton with their feet, but we didn't see any of that tonight.
This was one of the most exciting displays of Samoan culture we've seen - just breathtaking!