Parking was wall to wall and late comers might have found it difficult to find a parking space at all.
11 people registered for the Tahitian or Hula dance competition. Nine dancers showed up. Three registered for comedy but one backed out.
Dancers quite often danced in groups together but each individual performer was judged by the five member international panel of judges. In the Tahitian competition Oscarson (Ozky) Ikalap won the top prize with his stunning fire dance. Molisi Joli won second place, and Mayboleen Santiago took the third spot.
In the comedy competition, Scott Shanahan won for his gritty and sometimes just on the edge of mean, comedy performance. Alona Tate took the second prize.
Due to a prior commitment with the Australian Embassy we were not able to photograph all of the competitors. But Tony Cantero said the event was so successful that Mangrove Bay Bar will be having another competition next month.
A few days after the competition we contacted the most unique performer of the evening, Ozky Ikalap to find out how it was that a young man who had grown up in Yap had acquired the skill of fire dancing. Fire dancing is not a Yapese traditional dance. It is Polynesian.
Before coming to Pohnpei to study liberal arts at the College of Micronesia FSM, he’d only been out of Yap when he was selected as one of the Close Up students to visit the United States while he was in High School.
We organized a special photo shoot on the causeway and spent a lot of time together trying to get it planned and organized.
During a lunch at Oceanview, the young man who will be 23 by the time this newspaper is published told me that when he was 12 or 13 years old, his uncle Ray came back from the University of Hawaii having acquired the fire dancing skill while he was there.
He started a small Polynesian dance group. Ozky was the youngest in the group and though he practiced with them he wasn’t able to perform publicly with the group until he was 14.
During that performance he burned himself but he didn’t give it up. He said that he never burned himself again and learned to work with the fire instead of against it.
(Source: The Kaselehlie Press 21 December 2016)