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Tue, 30 Nov


Mabel Park State High School

HEILANI - ‘AILAO / SIVA AFI - 4 Week Course

23NOV - 14DEC (4 weeks) TUESDAYS @ Mabel Park SHS 6:00-7:00pm $40 individuals $60 families (immediate family only) $25 practice stick

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HEILANI - ‘AILAO / SIVA AFI - 4 Week Course
HEILANI - ‘AILAO / SIVA AFI - 4 Week Course

Time & Location

30 Nov 2021, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Mabel Park State High School, 72/116 Paradise Rd, Slacks Creek QLD 4127, Australia


About the event


HEILANI - 4Week Course 

All levels welcome!

You will progress at your own pace!


  • You are welcome to bring your own practice stick 
  • Or order one through our store (allow 2-3days production time) 



  • If an absolute beginner - your goal would be to be able to confidently execute a few basic movements by the end of the course 
  • If you have spun a little before - your goal would be to confidently learn more movements & perform a new routine 
  • If you’re at a more advanced level in your ability to spin many diffevent movements - your goal would be to confidently perform the routine & practice lighting the knife on fire (with understanding fire safety as well) 


  • TUESDAYS (starting 23rd NOV 2021)
  • 6-7pm 
  • At Mabel Park SHS



Please ensure to have a parent/guardian there as a helper for any young children - and understand that their progress will be entirely up to their individual ability and focus


  • Knife dancing has a history which goes back hundreds of years. 
  • The modern fire knife dance has its roots in the ancient Samoan exhibition called "ailao" - the flashy demonstration of a Samoan warrior's battle prowess through artful twirling, throwing and catching, and dancing with a war club. The 'ailao could be performed with any warclub and some colonial accounts confirm that women also performed 'ailao at the head of ceremonial processions, especially daughters of high chiefs. 
  • During night dances torches were often twirled and swung about by dancers, although a warclub was the usual implement used for 'ailao. Before the introduction of metals, the most common clubs that were wielded and displayed in the 'ailao fashion were elaborately carved heirloom clubs called "anava." These 'anava were frequently carved with serrated edges and jagged "teeth" which characterized the unique Samoan weapon called the "nifo'oti." 
  • When European and American whalers and traders began commercial ventures in Samoa they introduced the natives to the long-handled blubber knife and the hooked cane knife. The characteristic metal hook of these tools was readily incorporated into the Samoan wooden nifo'oti which bears the unique hooked element whether carved from wood or forged from steel. 
  • One common claim is that the word "nifo'oti" means "tooth of death" but this is not linguistically accurate as Samoan syntax places the modifier after the subject; according to Samoan grammar the term "nifo'oti" would actually mean "dead tooth," hardly as intimidating as the former translation. One more linguistic issue remains to be worked out in regards to 'oti (with the initial glottal stop) and "oti" (without the glottal stop). When pronounced with the glottal stop, the word 'oti does not mean "death" at all; as a verb, 'oti means "to cut" as in 'otiulu ("hair cut") or as a noun it refers to the domestic goat. Therefore the most probable derivation of the term "nifo'oti" stems from the resemblance of the weapon's hook to the curved horn ("nifo) of a goat ('oti), or from the serrated teeth ("nifo") that formed the weapon's cutting edge ('oti).
  • Fire was added to the knife in 1946 by a Samoan knife dancer named Freddie Letuli, later to become Paramount Chief Letuli Olo Misilagi. Letuli was performing in San Francisco and noticed a Hindu Fire eater and a little girl with lighted batons. The fire eater loaned him some fuel, he wrapped some towels around his knife, and the fire knife dance was born.
  • Although today many commercial performers perform the dance with short staffs or unbladed knives, this is not authentic fire knife dance and is unacceptable in the Samoas except for training purposes. The knives used by performers in American Samoa are still made of machetes, although they are often dulled for younger dancers.



    For 1 participant only

    +$1.00 service fee
    Sale ended

    For Immediate Family Members Only

    +$1.50 service fee
    Sale ended



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