Rocco Tinitali is helping to bring a taste of the Polynesian Islands to the Grand Strand.
The 33-year-old American Samoa has been performing the art of fire knife dancing for the last five years. Now, he brings his performance to a new luau show at River Island Adventures in Longs.
It’s one of three Polynesian shows you can find this summer in the Myrtle Beach area.
Luaus have become a family affair
Tinitali followed his wife, who is also American Samoa, to the Myrtle Beach area. The couple currently live in Longs.
He learned how to fire knife dance from his brother-in-laws.
Tinitali performs with Hula Fire Entertainment, but his wife’s family conducts performances at another Polynesian dinner show.
It definitely is a family affair.
Tinitali said knife dance is a traditional Samoan art. “The way to get use to (the) fire back home is you cook with a rock fire,” Tinitali said. “The rocks are very hot. Whenever you get close to them, you burn yourself.”
Tinitali picked up the performance art easily, but it doesn’t mean he still doesn’t feel the heat. “I still burn myself,” he laughed.
He travels all over performing the fire knife dance.
Here’s where you can see him and his family locally.
Tinitali will perform as part of Adventure Luau, a new show being offered by River Island Adventures.
Jeff Cline with the Longs company, 1249 Vera Road, said by text that the show will be offered every Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. from June 2 through Sept. 29.
Cost is $54.99 per adult, $24.99 for ages 6 to 15 and free for ages 5 and younger.
The two-hour outdoor dinner and show will be along the river bank and offer authentic music and performances from the Pacific Islands, such as hula, poi balls and fire knife dance.
Dinner will include: kalua pork, shrimp with mango relish, cilantro lime rice, roasted vegetables, Hawaiian slaw, grilled pineapple, Hawaiian rolls and pineapple poke cake.
Cline said there may also be a Christmas luau during the month of December.
Performances will be by Hula Fire Entertainment with hula dancers from Aloha Island Experience, Cline said.
Go to rivr.info/luau or call 843-882-7487.
Polynesian Fire is a live music and luau dinner show. It features the Lavata’i brothers, who were born and raised in the village of Nu’uuli on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa.
The brothers learned the art of Samoan fire knife in 2002, training with Chief Olo “Freddie” Uluao Misilagi Letuli, who is known as the inventor of fire knife dancing.
“It’s interesting, ask the average local and they probably haven’t heard of it,” said operator Jason Wright about the show, although it’s been performing since 2015.
Wright got the idea for the show after attending a similar one in Hawaii. He was visiting Myrtle Beach and noticed that no one really had shows, so he decided to open one here. He operates another one in Daytona Beach.
People thought he was crazy when it first started, Wright said. No he sells out shows six days a week, he said.
When he partnered with the Lavata’i family for the show, “it changed everything,” Wright said.
The show takes place at 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the St. Johns Inn, 6803 N Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach.
Cost runs from $29.99 to $69.99. Tickets can be booked at Polynesianfire.com or by calling 843-424-1978.
Summer Beach Hula Shows
Town of Surfside Beach will offer Summer Beach Hula Shows from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday from June 5 through August at the 3rd Avenue North Beach Access.
Admission is free, but tips are accepted.
It’s suggested that attendees should bring a chair or blanket.