Samoan Chief Pulefanolefolasa F. Galea‘i Releases Book, “The Fire Knife Dance: The Story Behind the Flames Ta’alolo to Nifo’oti”

Samoan Chief Pulefanolefolasa F. Galea‘i Releases Book, "The Fire Knife Dance: The Story Behind the Flames Ta'alolo to Nifo'oti"

Samoan Chief Pulefanolefolasa F. Galea‘i has written an incredible book showcasing the rich culture of the Samoan people.  The book is called "The Fire Knife Dance: The Story Behind the Flames Ta'alolo to Nifo'oti." The work is a rich expression of the history of the Samoan fire knife dance (Samoan Ailao), from the time it was a victory ceremony of war to its modern-day form. This large, colorful, and exotic masterpiece was published on December 15, 2015.

Chief Pulefanolefolasa gives a clear explanation of the weapon nifo'oti (the deadly tooth or cutting tooth). The book elaborates the various stages of the dance, from traditional to creative or a modern style, and also instructs how to build the actual knife itself. It also expresses how to formulate a dancing routine from its simplest stages to becoming a professional. The steps of dancing, with one, two, three, and four knives, are clearly mentioned. The book also teaches to perform the dance with safety, and it also describes the rules and criteria to build champions from broomsticks to the real nifo'oti. 

“This is a book for all fire knife dancers who wish to preserve the traditions of Samoa and to bring honor to thousands of years of tradition," says an impressed reader. 

The book is one big manual that combines the history of an exotic cultural tradition with the biography of an extraordinary man who has devoted his entire life to its practice and preservation. Through the book, the reader will travel the Samoan world of Ailao dance, its origin, and the story behind the flames. Galea'i collaborated with freelance writer Donna Manz to write this informative style guide.

Chief Pulefanolefolasa F. Galea‘i was born in American Samoa at the end of WWII. He was schooled by Mormons. He later took up knife dancing, taught by his father. He soon became a wanted performer in Waikiki. Returning to Hawaii after an exciting career in the US,  Galea‘i was inspired to raise cultural awareness of his Samoan traditions. He went on to start the World Fireknife Championship and other notable festivals that maintain this ancient art form.

Modern Ailao performers pay much respect to Galea'i, who not only handcrafts special nifo'oti for the ceremonial art but has proved himself a cultural ambassador, helping to preserve Samoan tribal rituals.

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