Beverly Richards, who grew up in East Boston and has dedicated her entire life to promoting the benefits of dance throughout her life, is thrilled.
The beginning of the new dance season is approaching and she is preparing for another fun-filled year of teaching dance and acting to her students, just as she did forty years ago as the owner of Beverly’s dance studio. Richards on Bennington Street.
From hillbillies to patriots
Beverly Richards lived in Orient Heights during her childhood. She attended St. Lazarus in East Boston and Saint Rose High School in Chelsea. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Technology as a graduate of the first class following the merger of Boston State College and UMass Boston in 1982.
“I was the cheerleader for Saint Dominic Savio High School and when the school went away, I was their coach,” Richards said, adding that she has established her roots in East Boston. “I was the choreographer for the Boston College dance team from 1994 to 1997 and choreographed their performance for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade [in New York City]. Then I became the cheer coach at St. Mary’s (Lynn).”
But any story about Beverly Richards’ remarkable career in high school dance must include her pioneering days as a member of the New England Patriots cheerleading squad.
A star player on the track team at Boston State College, Richards earned a spot on the New England Patriots cheerleading squad, later known as the Patriots and the Spirits. At the age of 18, she was one of the most talented players in college football and would play with the Patriots for five seasons.
In an article that appeared in the East Boston Times-Free Press, Susan Shannon, director of the Patriots Cheerleaders from 1979 to 1985, said that Beverly Richards Buckley was an “incredible cheerleader” during her time with the New England Patriots. “Anytime you need someone to go to an event and volunteer, she’s always there and ready to help,” Shannon said. “Beverly was so talented, such a great dancer, and she was always so bright. And her family was amazing, too.”
Beverly Richards was teaching in dance programs in five different communities when Proposition 2 ½ forced officials to cut the program from their budget.
“I had a group of East Boston students that lived across the street from my house where I grew up,” Richards said. “They were waiting for me to come home from college to teach them how to dance at Noyes Park. So, my parents (James and Marion Richards) said, ‘Why don’t we just get a place?’ And I said, ‘Okay, no problem’ – and that’s how it started.”
“One of those original students was Gayle Moran Norcross, who helped with my show this year,” Richards said.
Today, Beverly Richards can claim to have introduced dance lessons to hundreds of local girls and boys. One of her students is her son, James, who is also a talented singer and multi-athlete who will sing the national anthem in uniform before St. John’s High School football games. Mary’s. James helped St. Mary won the Super Bowl in 2005.
What helped her lay the foundation for 40 years of excellence in her career?
“I love to dance,” Beverly said. “I love the relationship with the kids. I love watching them grow and their education improve. I think the reason I’m still around is because we do a lot of community service. Our dancers performed on Friday by fishermen and Eastie Pride Day.”
The next generation in the Richards/Buckley family took the initiative. Beverly’s granddaughter, 4-year-old Emma Buckley, daughter of James and Katie Buckley, has been a student at the Dance Center since she was two years old. She also has a one-year-old grandson, Tanner Buckley.
This week Beverly will celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband, Michael Buckley, an accomplished musician and retired band director at Melrose High School.
And come the week of September 12, Beverly Richards will begin something new – continuing her legacy of creating the brightest and most beautiful, talented East Boston children’s futures with the collaboration, pride, and teamwork that comes through dancing and playing.