In Dedication: Patricia
When Pat Richards died on June 24, 1998 a bright light vanished from
the world. Patricia Richards was a remarkable choreographer, gifted dancer
and loving mother and wife. As friend, teacher and colleague she gave
unstintingly of herself and touched deeply many who came to know and love
her. She was a tireless advocate for the arts and a passionate exponent of
them. The dance community deeply mourned the passing of one of its most
cherished souls, a pillar of strength and an inspiration to many.
Pat was a modern dancer and choreographer who trained at the Laban Center in England before
emigrating to Canada with her husband, Tony. As a choreographer Pat
exerted a significant influence on young dancers, encouraging and
inspiring many of them to make their own work and draw on their own
creativity. Among the many dancers who studied with her were a Randy Glynn and Ruth
Ellen Kroll who danced for several years with the David Parsons Dance Company in New
York. Her own work was profoundly influenced by visual art, particularly
the work of painter Georgia O'Keefe. The
vision and technique of Martha
Graham had a great influence on her choreographic style and approach.
Pat was a leading expert in historical dance, specializing in the
Baroque Period and was often called on to set dances for film, television,
theatre and historical animations such as Fortress Louisbourg.
Pat was on the Board of Directors of the Dance in Canada Association
during some of its most difficult years and played a pivotal role there.
She was a founding director for the Association of Dance in Universities
and Colleges in Canada and a member of the Canadian Association of
Professional Dance Organizations. She sat on many Canada Council juries.
In her home province Pat Richards worked tirelessly and passionately
for the cause of arts education, sitting as a member of the Education
Minister's Advisory Committee on Arts Education and as part of the work
group that created Dance 11, the province's first discreet dance
curriculum. She was on the founding Board of the Nova Scotia Arts Council
and served for many years as both a Board and jury member for the Nova
Scotia Talent Trust. In 1996 she was presented with the Dance Nova Scotia Award, Nova Scotia's
highest award, recognizing her outstanding contribution to the development
of dance in the province.
A key member of Halifax
Dance from its earliest days, she played many roles there; as teacher,
choreographer, administrator, chair of the Board and chair of Halifax
Dance's major fund-raining event, Black Tie With a Twist. Pat was a
regular guest choreographer for the Halifax Dance Young Company. In
1996, endowed by Margaret and David Fountain, the Pat Richards
Choreographic Award was created. It is adjudicated annually at Dance Nova Scotia and Kinetic Studio sponsored
Taking Steps to Fly program to a young dance student who shows most
promise as a choreographer. Over the past year she was a key creative
contributor to OnAxis Dance.
As a faculty member of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, Pat created and taught
courses on Arts and Leisure and on Arts Administration. Her passion for
the art form, and her abilities to communicate and inspire were such that
she awoke in many students who had never previously attended a live
performance or visited a gallery, a lifelong interest and involvement in
As an adept administrator she was responsible for introducing dance
classes into the Physical Education and Theatre curricula and taught a
History of Dance Course in the Music Department. She was a much respected
academic with a thorough knowledge of dance technique and history and of
the spiritual and cultural roles of dance. Her academic contributions to
this community and her research on the history and origins of dance in
Nova Scotia laid important intellectual foundations for this discipline.
Pat was possessed of a natural gentility and a generosity of spirit
which permeated every aspect of her life. She brought much joy into the
lives of her friends and especially to her husband Tony and daughter
She brought an unstinting commitment to every project she undertook,
modestly stressing the accomplishments of others above her own. Through
her work and her many contributions, there are structures, organizations
and policies in place that will have a lasting effect in making Nova
Scotia a richer artistic community. Many artists, students and children in
our province live in a richer world for Pat Richards having been here. She
leaves behind a legacy of dance works, rich in imagery and meaning.
If every there was an example of how the beauty, passion and
transformative power of art can shine within a person and illuminate the
world, Pat Richards was such a person. She was among the most respected of
Nova Scotia artists - and certainly the most loved.
As a small token of our respect the Chebucto Community Net has
dedicated it's dance section in loving memory of her, her many
accomplishments and the profound influence she had on the lives of many.
We hope her example will be an inspirtaion to all of us for years to come.
We miss her, but we know that Pat would want us to get on with life,
gardening, and the wonderful magic of telling our stories through the
medium of art!
Mirrors Press have published a volume of poetry and prose entitled Sleeping With
Geraniums. The book is composed of by poems by actor, director,
educator and author June Mitchell, a lifetime friend of Pat
Richards which 'converse' with extracts from the letters and journals of
Pat Richards to weave a fascinating text which is an eloquent meditation
on the world and its endless beauty and fascination. The book is a fitting
tribute to this remarkable woman.
Memorial donations in Pat Richards' name can always be made to Halifax
Dance in the name of Pat Richards.