Your mother may have told you that you should never play with fire, but there's no rule against watching someone else do it.
The dance originates from the Samoan ailao, a warrior’s knife dance performed with the machete-like nifo oti, or “tooth of death,” according to the Polynesian Cultural Center. While the modern version uses a baton -- not exactly a "tooth of death" -- it showcases a dancer’s acrobatic skills, precision, and most importantly courage. The dancers, who often come into contact with the hot flames, do not wear any protection and often get burned.
“The level of talent and commitment that these competitors bring each year is truly what makes the [championships] a world-renowned competition,” Samoan Village Chief and one of the event’s emcees, Steve Laulu, said in a statement. “These warriors are determined to master the cultural artistry of fire knife dancing, and it is reflected in their frighteningly courageous world-class performances.”
This year’s competition includes dancers as young as six (!) and culminates on Saturday with the crowning of the world champ.
This should go without saying: Please don’t try this at home.