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Pat Richards was a gifted dancer, choreographer, academic and arts administrator who died in 1998. She was deeply mourned by her wide circle of friends, colleagues, and fellow artists. Since that time, grief has slowly transformed into creation as her many collaborators have endeavoured to breathe new life into her work, to mark and commemorate her many achievements, and to extend her vision and commitment to the arts into the future.
One of Pat Richards closest friendships, spanning almost her entire life, was with actor, director, educator and author June Mitchell. The two met at age five in school in their hometown of Liverpool and cemented a friendship that not only withstood the challenges of separation and time, but flourished through it.
One the results of this unique friendship is a new collection of prose and poems entitled Sleeping With Geraniums. Over the years June Mitchell wrote a series of poems to and about Pat Richards, often motivated by visits, conversations or the evocative letters that Pat Richards wrote to her. In Sleeping With Geraniums, these poems by June Mitchell '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. Veronica Tennant, former prima-ballerina of the National Ballet of Canada and now a director and producer with CBC Television, who read the manuscript writes:
"Sitting in my garden in early spring and reading - no hearing and feeling - the extraordinary exchange between Pat Richards and her childhood friend, June Mitchell, I am struck by the power of love, dance, connecting and friendship.
Their volume of correspondence with its honesty and courage, is a tribute to life and the living, long past the tears of parting. Sleeping with Geraniums is a celebration of hope and continuation. It is a beautiful remembrance of a person who has, and always will, touch us with her spirit and truth."
Sleeping With Geraniums is published by Empty Mirrors Press. It is edited by Christopher Majka, and the cover was painted by artist and choreographer Sheilagh Hunt, both close collaborators of Pat Richards. Hunt, Majka and Richards were three of the founding members (along with Kym Butler and Kathy Martin Parker) of the modern-dance collective OnAxis Dance. OnAxis completed a cycle of dances called The Five Sacred Trees that Pat Richards began choreographing. The work is a five part concerto by composer John Williams based on Irish Celtic mythology.
Sleeping With Geraniums sells for $10.00 ($12.50 shipping & handling included) and is available from Empty Mirrors Press, 6252 Jubilee Rd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 2G5 or by contacting [Empty Mirrors Press].
Further information on Pat Richards can be found on the Pat Richards Dance Page located on the Chebucto Community Net.