The countdown is on to this year’s 17th Annual International Siva Afi competition.
It will run for three days from August 30 to September 1 at the end of this week.
The event organizer and owner of Siva Afi, Leota Lene Leota, said interest is slowly building in the lead-up to the opening of the competition.
“This year more than 10 young fire dancers will be competing in this year’s international competition and there are a lot of juniors as well as seniors so it will be an exciting time for both participants and the audience.”
Among them are competitors who have travelled to Samoa from abroad, such as Osmond Atonio from Hong Kong, who is a fire knife dancer.
“Osmond is a 22 year old fire knife dancer. He started from here when he was just a young boy at the Ailao Club, he then earned a contract in Hong Kong Disney World in 2016 where he has been residing in the past few years now,” said Leota.
The competitors will be judged by Malo Seleni of Hawaii, Tipa Galeai of the Polynesian Culture Center and Vaea Vaaulu of Florida.
Leota said the launching of the competition will be held tomorrow, where the sponsors of the competition will also be acknowledged for their support.
When asked what will be different this year, Leota said there have been a lot of improvement in terms of the talent.
“Every year there are always new techniques. This year the youngest performer is nine-year-old Vesi Tele’a of Matautu.”
He will compete in the junior division, which Leota said confirms that there are a lot of young people showing an interest in fire dancing.
“Amongst the competitors there are also three street vendors who will be competing this year and that is what we want is to help the vendors have a better life.
“Like for example ‘Ula Boy’, he was a street vendor and now he is famous in the ailao industry he no longer sells ula or lays on the street but fire dancing earns him money to provide for his family,” he added.
Giving details on the program lineup, Leota said it will start on Thursday with the junior category competing on Friday and Saturday for the main event.
“For the senior division the winning price is $3,000, second runner-up will receive $2,000 and third runner-up will receive cash money of $1,000 as for the routine division the winners, (they) will receive cash prize of $1,000, second runner-up will receive $500 and third runner-up will receive $300.
“For the junior division the winner will receive a cash prize of $500, second runner-up is $300 and third runner-up is $150.”
Leota said he hopes this year’s competition will see more young people showcase their talent. Tickets are now available $85 (dinner and show) and $35 (show only).