Elizabeth Richie obituary

Elizabeth Richie obituary

My friend Elizabeth Richie, who died at age 76 of a pulmonary embolism, had a career and a life that spanned success in dance, theater management, complementary medicine, and art.

Initially a dancer in Canada and the US, she later moved to the UK, where she worked at the Royal Court Theater in London, promoted authors at the Canadian Embassy, ​​and founded two complementary health centers and an art gallery.

Born in Windsor, Ontario, Elizabeth was the daughter of Armand Richie, a factory worker, and Marguerite (née Couture), a homemaker. She was one of six children and the only girl.

She began studying ballet at the age of six and showed great talent. After graduating from high school, she worked as a secretary to pay for her tuition and at age 19 she received a scholarship to study at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal. She went on to join the performance company and later joined the Detroit Civic Ballet. The intensity of her dancing career took its toll, and in 1967 she traveled to Britain with the intention of forging a career in theatre.

After working as a secretary for a while, she found work as a costume assistant at the Royal Court and climbed the ladder to become stage director. After training at the Arts Council, she worked in arts administration from 1971 onwards at the Tyneside Theater Company in Newcastle and at the Phoenix Theater in Leicester, alongside artistic director Michael Bogdanov.

Arriving at Phoenix in 1973, she was given the task of running it as a youth theater, so she quickly established contacts with schools, social workers, and communities. She arrived just as the company and staff were moving to take over the new Haymarket theater, and everyone expected the Phoenix to close. For the first six months she did everything from advertising to running the house and finances as there was no money. However, the operation doubled in size during her tenure.

In the late 1970s, Elizabeth became director of theater for the Arts Council, evaluating the artistic merits and management of subsidized theaters. And in 1979 she joined the Canadian Embassy as an arts administrator and theater consultant. Elizabeth promoted and organized play readings and book launches for authors then little known in Britain, including Michel Tremblay, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Alice Munro.

An interest in complementary medicine led Elizabeth to pursue training in massage and traditional Chinese medicine, which she completed in 1988. She became a registered acupuncturist, working in this field with great competence and compassion. In 1990, she co-founded a complementary health centre, Trinity Centre, in Colchester, Essex.

In the early 1990s she met her partner, Ann Pengelly, a stained glass artist and teacher, and they moved to Devon, where in 1996 Elizabeth co-founded the Awareness complementary health center in Axminster.

In later years, she began drawing and painting, successfully exhibiting and selling her work, and as a creative director co-founded Lyme Bay Arts, a gallery and shop in Symondsbury, Dorset.

She leaves Ann and her five siblings.

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