Miranda Tufnell biography


For the last thirty-five years I have been pursuing a profound interest in the body, environment and the language of movement. My work has evolved through ongoing collaborations and research in performance and teaching alongside working as a body therapist/ movement educator (both independently and within the NHS). My work has followed a passion to listen more deeply to the body's subtleties of movement, and to explore the human need to find a language that is beneath our words.

Background

Studied English at University College, London with Frank Kermode and then began my dance training at London School of Contemporary Dance. I studied in New York, Cunningham Studio and with Nancy Topf and Simone Fortis. Other significant influences have been Alexander techinique, Contact Improvisation, Release, and Tai’ Chi.

Performance 1976-87

I returned to UK in 1976 joined the Rosemary Butcher Dance Company and started my own company with Martha Grogan.Our early performances were initially concerned with a stripping down to the detail, patterning and rhythm of pedestrian movement. Following a collaboration with Tim Head for the Whitechapel Gallery in 1980, I began to work more fully with light, sound, film and projection making work for outdoors, galleries & theatres spaces often creating site-specific events. Collaborations with others have been a rich and vital part of my working. Dancers have included Martha Grogan, Dennis Greenwood, Eva Karczag, Tim Rubidge, Simon Whitehead. Visual artists - Tim Head, Stuart Brisley, David Ward, Caroline Lee and Chris Crickmay. Musicians - Sylvia Hallett, and sound sculptor, Will Menter.

Changing Steps( 1976) Shift (1979), Whitechapel (1980) a series of pieces for the Whitechapel gallery with Tim Head and Dennis Greenwood), Other Rooms( 1981) Night Pieces (1984) Split,Silver (1981) Urban Weather,( 1982) with Stuart Brisley, Huge Veil(1983) with David Ward.

Invisible Forces of Silver
Invisible forces Miranda Tufnell

In 1982 with dancer Laurie Booth, I set up the Independent Dance Program in London to enable freelance dancers to broaden their training through regular workshops with dancers from around the world. After several years going to and from British Columbia, my family and I moved to a remote small holding in Cumbria. Coming to knowing a place through 18 years of seasons and weather has deeply informed my movement teaching. Whilst continuing to make performance I taught movement and trained at Fellside Alexander School.

Performances 1987 - :
This began an 18 year performance collaboration with muscian Sylvia Hallett. Landlight 1988, Passages 1990,( nominated for Northern Electric arts awards)Soft Shell, In the Grain of the Body 1993, Invisible Forces of Silver 1994. These pieces combined sound, movement and light to create a series of image landscapes that explore the nature of body and of land. These opened in the village hall before touring. A film W I N G exploring these themes was made in 1999 (10 mins).
Venues include:
Whitechapel Gallery, London, Arnolfini Bristol, Almeida Theatre, The Place, Riverside Studios, London, Museum of Modern Art Oxford, Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Midland Group Nottingham, Tramway and Third Eye Glasgow, Traverse Edinburgh, Gulbenkian Studio Newcastle, Nuffield Studios Lancaster, Mappin Gallery Sheffield, Holland Festival, Opera House Skopje, Macedonia.

I am reminded of tales of other cultures, other systems of belief, where the dream state is given value and seen as possessing a reality as strong as that of the material things ofevery day, where waking is a transition from one world to another.” SILVER - Performance Magazine

Chris Crickmay
An ongoing dialogue with Chris Crickmay began in 1977 with a TV programme for the Open University on making dance for ‘non-dancers’ entitled "Dance Without Steps". Later we wrote the two books, Body Space Image 1990, and A Widening Field 2004. We continue to collaborate in performance and teaching.

Arts and health


Throughout my career I have been interested in the body, health and therapeutic value of creative work. Since 1976 I have been involved with Alexander technique and worked part time since 1990 as an Alexander teacher within the NHS for a GP surgery. I trained in Cranio Sacral Therapy with Franklyn Sills(1994-5) at the Karuna Institute . In 2000 this expanded into an arts and health collaboration with dancer Tim Rubidge. This became known as the Breath of Fresh Air project. We worked in close dialogue with the health service to engage people isolated through chronic poor health with a creative arts practice across Cumbria and Northumberland. As one doctor said “when we are ill the body becomes the enemy”; we saw our role as 'ambassadors for the body'. Writer and psychotherapist Brenda Mallon also joined the final year of this. A publication When I Open My Eyes 2005 gives an account of this. In 2010 I wrote "Dance, Health and Well Being", available through the Foundation for Community Dance. Visiting tutor for UCLAN Dance and Somatic Wellbeing. Visiting professor in Performance at Coventry University.

Recent performance

Spirit Level 2002 :
a group piece with storyteller Malcolm Green, Tim Rubidge/Chris Crickmay/Sharon Higginson.
Breath 2004 :
with video artist Simon Hyde and muscian Sylvia Hallett with Rosetta Life, and people from St Thomas's Dimbleby day centre hospice shown at Riverside Studios,London.
Recurring Mice 2006 :
with Lucia Walker and women from St Thomas cancer support group
Where Light Meets Stone 2006 :
a site specific event with sound sculptor Will Menter and Chris Crickmay
Recurring Mice 2006 :
with Lucia Walker and women from St Thomas cancer support group
The Pneuma Project 2014/15 :
with David Ward, Sylvia Hallett, Jonah Brody, Cai Tomos, Eeva-Maria Mutka and Tim Rubidge


“Miranda Tufnell works in the field improvised mixed media and dance performance often in collaboration with visual artist and musicans. Live improvisation permits a highly integrated organic and living form. Tufnell works at the limits of what she knows, always building new ground, always dipping deep into the recesses of mind and body in order to draw up fresh material. The work evokes huge landscapes of the imagination, in a fluid realm where humans, animals. spirit forces and natural phenomena interact and combine in a constant state of unpredictable transformation. It traverses an emotional spectrum from meditative to lyrical, to humorous, to wild and shocking. To create this vibrant world she conjures with space using exquisite sensitivity and economy in orchestration of light, sound, movement and objects. “