An idea and 15 years later ...
Last night, the long wait ended as the 15th International Siva Afi Competition would have set the sky alight at surfside, Matautu Tai.
The first night was for the seniors to compete and tonight will be routines and the juniors to showcase what they’ve got.
So 16 seniors with one fire dancer from New Zealand, Tim Noyce who for the first time, took part in the International Competition.
A very special guest at this year’s event is the woman who started the competition in 2002, Sue Tuiā.
She is New Zealand born, married to a Samoan from Magiagi and back in Samoa after being away for 14 years.’
“I lived here in 2000 and was responsible for starting this competition in 2002. Then I left and now I’m back,” she said.
“I’m here to help Clare with the logistics and all of those things and will leave the judging to the experts.
“[But] may I say that I am really impressed to see the way the competition has developed over the years from such small beginnings.
“One good idea and now 15 years later, it is unbelievable!
"There are so many different parts to the competition.
“We have people coming in from overseas asking, ‘What is the competition like?’ and ‘When is it on?’
“So there’s tourism; there’s helping the kids and the private sector’s support from the Performing Arts and Samoa and so many different parts to it which is amazing.”
Mrs. Tuiā said the reason why she left was because she was here in Samoa on a contract and when her contract came to an end, she had married to a Samoan and so they both left.
“I was here for the first competition in 2002,” she said.
“The idea started,” she said, “because the owner of the Siva Afi, Leota Lene Leota was very passionate about creating opportunities to promote fire dance (ailao afi).
“It was a Samoan art; not an art from anywhere else in the world where they do it like Las Vegas or anywhere else. It belongs here, this is the home for ailao,” she said.
“[And] so we were talking about that and Leota felt that there should be a big competition here in the home of fire knives.
“He is such a good visionary and passionate about what he wants to do, he is like a torch you give him one small light and he runs away with it.”
And after 14 years, Sue is looking forward to seeing how the event that she is part of, has grown.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the number of tourists and the supporters of the event,” she said
“I’m looking forward to seeing the children; I think they are always amazing performers and they are excited about it.
“[And] most especially I’m looking forward to see how the dancing has progressed in those 14 years; what the latest moves are. I think in the competition this year, there are quite a lot of people with very good talent and it will be hard to pick a winner.”
The three judges will be Malo Seleni from Hawaii, Patrick Rasmussen who is an ex fire dancer, the General Manager of Samoa Paints, and Lesoa Leilua from Siumu who is a well-known trainer of fire dancers.
The competition will continue through until finals night on Saturday.