Zaz with pizzazz

The 10-day performance art festival in Tel Aviv provides a platform for many different types of artists.

Zaz with pizzazz (photo credit: Courtesy)
Zaz with pizzazz
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv’s new central bus station is an unusual building filled with twists and turns. Nearly every person who visits the transportation hub gets lost at some point in the labyrinth of dark hallways or winding staircases between bus platforms. If you’re lucky, one of these excursions will lead you to the doors of Miklat 209. Behind the gritty exterior of harsh concrete walls lies this center for performance art, housed in the most unlikely of places.
To enter Miklat 209, home of Ensemble 209, is to be magically transported into a world of creation. Performance art guru Tamar Raban, whose previous works have included the majestic Old Wives Tales and Amplifier, directs the space. For the past seven years, Raban has also hosted and curated the annual Zaz Festival, which will take place during Hanukka this season, from December 6 through December 15.
The Zaz Festival invites Israeli and international performance artists to interact with various audiences, public arenas and performance spaces. For the first time, this year’s festival will branch out to include events in Haifa and Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv. Local artists to participate in this year’s program include Guy Gutman, Ya’acov Chefetz, Sarit Talmor and Hadas Efrat. Joining these artists will be Dorothea Rust from Switzerland, Waldemar Tatrczuk from Poland, Ashmina Ranjit of Nepal, Ko Siu Lan from Hong Kong and many others. These practitioners will each take on a particular nook or cranny, from the sidewalk to the bus platforms to the main stage in Miklat 209.
Performance art is a wide and deep field, one that casts an umbrella over a range of actions from outdoor dance performances to civil action. One of the defining characteristics of performance art is its relation to interdisciplinary works. A relatively new field, performance art has been developing rapidly since its emergence as an art form in the 1960’s.
The Zaz Festival provides a platform for many different types of artists, all functioning within the somewhat blurry context of the performance art field. As such, the events range from carefully rehearsed pieces to spontaneous action. Some focus on sound, while others veer towards movement. For audience members who are baffled by the amount of options available, Miklat 209 will offer an organized tour through the installations during the weekend. Entitled “Foreign Work,” the three-hour tour will take place in Miklat 209, as well as in the corridors of the bus station.
Beyond the multitude of performances in this year’s program, the festival has also arranged a rich roster of workshops for professional, intermediate and first-time performance artists. These meetings will take place throughout the 10 days of events and will offer interested parties a chance to create their own mini-pieces. There will also be question and answer sessions with leaders from the field about the possibilities of taking performance outside of the proscenium theater into the real world. Workshops will take place in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem and are offered at discounted rates for students.
The Zaz Festival will take place from December 6 through December 15. For more information, visit