Many faces were new, some faces were familiar. Some of the
old, familiar faces were not there, including David Galeai,
the 1999 and 2000 winner. He was not eligible to compete because
he had won both previous years.
This year’s competition had a format similar to that of previous
years. All competitors performed in the preliminaries on the
first night. The nine men with the highest scores then competed
in three semi-final rounds, three men per round. The winners
of each semi-final round competed in the finals on Saturday.
The competitors were judged by several criteria:
the height of the throws
the speed of the spins
the difficulty of the tricks
Competence: no knives were dropped
Competitors Scott Zuziak and Thomas Kato came all the way from
Illinois, and they brought a group of supporters with them.
During their performances, their following was so loud that
the audinece might have thought the Cubs had won the World Series.
All the support paid off when Zuziak made it to the semi-finals.
Kalamalama caught up with Zuziak at a special
reception after the preliminaries, sponsored by Cultural Center.
“There are about 10 to 15 fireknife dancers in the Chicago area,”
said Zuziak, who had been “a juggler and acrobat in the circus”
before he took up fireknife.
David Ahuna, 18 years old from Kane‘ohe, made the semi-finals
for the first time. “Did you see him? He did really well and
had a lot of confidence,” said his father Joseph Ahuna, who
was videotaping his son’s performance.
Pati Levasa, Conan Higa, and Teo (Kap) Tafiti had the three
highest scores in the semi-finals and performed in the final
round, held during the intermissions of the two PCC Horizon
shows. The finals generated a high level of anticipation and
excitement, as all three dancers had their own signature moves,
spun their knives at incredible speeds, and put on dazzling
In the end, speed and experience won out as Pati Levasa won
his third championship. Kap Tafiti was second and Conan Higa
third. When asked how this win compared to his previous ones,
Levasa replied through a translater: “It was the same. There
were only 16 others and the competition was not as high this
Levasa has an incredible one-handed “helicopter” spin that
he created and perfected. Many other dancers have tried to imitate
it, but no one even comes close to Levasa’s flair. Asked how
long he worked to teach himself the move, he answered, “One