Mormon fire-knife dancer awes in 'Sin City'

Twice a week during the summer, Foi Tuitama is surrounded by hazards.

There are fast-spinning hooked knives once used by Samoan warriors to decapitate enemies. There are swells of fire that have seared his skin on occasion. And there is downtown Las Vegas, otherwise known as "Sin City."

This devout Mormon, however, knows how to handle them all.

"I pay my tithing and I don't burn," Tuitama says with a laugh.

The discipline is called the "siva afi," and, yes, it comes with cuts and burns. Tuitama is a fire-knife dancer who has entertained audiences with sharp blades and flames for nearly three decades. Nineteen of those years have been spent on stage at the Imperial Palace, making Tuitama an anomaly -- an LDS dancer on the infamous Las Vegas Boulevard.

"It's kind of two things that don't go together," wife Shauna says.

But for Tuitama, 46, the siva afi is more than a dance and a curious side job. It's a representation of his heritage, a means of providing for his family, and an avenue for service to church and community.

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