Spotlight: Christopher Santos
Christopher Santos looks at Polynesian fire knife dancing as a labor of love.
Though Santos keeps himself busy as a contract specialist for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas and has had to put fire dancing on hold in the past, today he still performs, continuing his passion for his art.
Santos attributes the beginnings of his fire knife-wielding to his wife, Racine, who was a Tahitian dancer when they began dating.
“She invited me to watch her perform,” he said. “I saw guys dancing with fire and machetes and I told myself that I would never do that. One night, she told me that her instructor was looking for male dancers…I figured it would be a good way for me to spend time with her.”
Santos said it took a month of practice to get used to the flow and proper hand placement of the fire knife.
“There’s nothing that can explain the excitement and fear that you get when you first light the fire knife up.” he said. “It is hot! The most difficult part (is) the blisters that you have to endure because all of the twirling and the heat that your hands are not accustomed to.”
With a number of years of experience in cultural dancing already under his belt, Santos auditioned his way into the dance group Te’ Manu in 2004 and has been dancing since then, currently performing two to three nights per week at a local hotel.
“Performing on stage is a rush,” he said. “There’s a lot of adrenaline and excitement going through you and a lot of expectation when you are the only one on stage about to perform a solo routine in front of 300 guests.”
Beyond passion, however, Santos maintains that dance is also a way to leave stress behind and live a healthy lifestyle.
“I enjoy dancing and going to the gym because I know that the long term benefits will not only affect me, but my daughter as well, knowing she will have a dad to take care of her and be with her every step of the way,” he said.
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