Her Hips Don’t Lie

Middle Eastern Entertainment at Sawa

By J.P. Faber//Photography by Jonathan Dann

October 2019

The music comes on dramatically, the rhythm of drums, cymbals, tambourine and that oboe-like sound of Arabic music, piped in from hidden speakers. And then she appears, bejeweled and smooth-skinned, draped with shimmering scarves: Rena the belly dancer. She twirls, she spins, she undulates, moving her hips in ways that defy the physics of what a body ought to be able to do.

This is the weekend scene in the courtyard outside Sawa, in the Shops at Merrick Park. With shows at 8 and 10 p.m., diners at the Mediterranean/ Japanese restaurant are beguiled by the ancient art of torso manipulation that originated in Egypt. “We are trying to show Middle Eastern entertainment at its best,” says Venneza Romero, the owner of Your Exquisite Entertainment, the company that provides the performers. “These dancers have had years of training, working in dance studios… of course, it’s different in front of a live audience.”

Weekend belly dancing has become a signature event at Sawa, says GM Melissa Bolieu. “Our shows have run every Friday and Saturday night since the beginning of Sawa. These are fabulous dancers.”