Beverly Richards, who grew up in East Boston and has dedicated her life to promoting the lifelong benefits of dance, is excited.
The start of the new dance season is fast approaching and she is gearing up for another fun year of dance lessons and performances for her students, just as she has for the past four decades as owner. Beverly Richards Dance Center on Bennington Street.
From Mountains to Countryside
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 degree in Physical Education and Arts graduating with the first class after the merger of Boston State College and UMass Boston in 1982.
“I was the valedictorian at Saint Dominic Savio High School, and when school went, I was their cheerleader,” said Richards, keeping her roots in East Boston. “I was the choreographer for the Boston College dance team from 1994 to 1997 and directed their performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Show [in New York City]. Then I became the cheer coach at St. Mary’s (Lynn).”
But any story about Beverly Richards’ amazing career in dance and higher education must include her pioneering days as a member of the New England Patriots cheerleading squad.
A star player on Boston State College’s gymnastics team, Richards earned a spot on the New England Patriots’ cheerleading squad, known as the Patriots and later the Spirits. At the age of 18, she was one of the youngest recruits in the National Football League and would play with the Patriots for five seasons.
In a story 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 career with the New England Patriots. “Whenever you needed someone to go to a volunteer event for a charity, she was always front and center ready to help,” Shannon said. “Beverly was incredibly talented, an amazing dancer, and always a bright sunshine. And her family was wonderful, too.”
Beverly Richards was teaching 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 used to sit on the front steps of my house growing up,” Richards recalled. “They were waiting for me to come home from college to teach dance at Noyes Park. So, my parents (James and Marion Richards) said, ‘Why don’t we just find a place?’ And I said, ‘ Well, no problem’ – and that’s how it all started.
“One of the original students was Gayle Moran Norcross, who helped with my presentation this year,” said Richards.
Today, Beverly Richards can proudly claim to have introduced and taught dance to hundreds of local girls and boys. One of her students was her son, James, who was also a gifted singer and multi-sport athlete who would sing the National Anthem before football games at St. John’s High School. Mary. James helped St. Mary’s winning the Super Bowl in 2005.
What helped lay the foundation for 40 years of excellence in her career?
“I love to dance,” said Beverly. “I love the relationship with the kids. I love watching them grow and improve their education. I think the reason I’m still here is to do more community service. Our dancers performed at the Fishermen’s Festival on Friday. and Saturday is Eastie Pride Day.”
The next generation of the Richards/Buckley family took the stage. Beverly’s grandmother, 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 35 years of marriage to her husband, Michael Buckley, a professional singer and retired band director from Melrose High School. And come the week of September 12, Beverly Richards will start anew – continuing her legacy of making the future of East Boston’s children brighter and better, gifted with self-confidence, self-esteem, and teamwork. comes through dancing and performance.