Beverly Richards, who grew up in East Boston and has devoted her entire life to promoting the positive lifelong advantages of dance, is excited.
The start of the new dance season is fast approaching and she’s preparing another fun-filled year of dance instruction and performances for her students, just as she’s done for the past four decades as the owner of the legendary Beverly Richards Dance Center on Bennington Street.
From the Heights to the Patriots
Beverly Richards lived in Orient Heights during her childhood. She attended St. Lazarus School in East Boston and Saint Rose High School in Chelsea. She received her degree in Physical Education and Performing Arts as graduate of the first class following the merger of Boston State College and UMass Boston in 1982.
“I was a cheerleader for Saint Dominic Savio High School and when the school went coed, I was their cheerleading coach,” recalled Richards, further establishing 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 cheerleading coach at St. Mary’s (Lynn).”
But any story about Beverly Richards’ phenomenal career in the field of dance and secondary education must include her pioneering days as a member of the New England Patriots cheerleading team.
A star athlete on the gymnastics team at Boston State College, Richards earned a spot on the New England Patriots cheerleading team, known then as the Patriettes and later the Spirits. At the age of 18, she was one of the National Football League’s youngest professional cheerleaders and would perform with the Patriots team 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 amazing cheerleader” during her career with the New England Patriots. “Whenever you needed someone to go to an event and volunteer for a charity, she was always front and center ready to help out,” said Shannon. “Beverly was a beautiful talent, an incredible dancer, and always a bright sunshine. And her family was phenomenal, too.”
How It All Began
Beverly Richards was teaching in dance programs in five different communities when Proposition 2 ½ force officials to cut the program from their budgets.
“I had a group of East Boston students who used to sit on the front steps of my house where I grew up,” recalled Richards. “They would wait for me to come home from college to teach dance to them at Noyes Park. So, my parents (James and Marion Richards) said, ‘Why don’t we just find a place?’ And I said, ‘Okay, no problem’ – and that’s how it all started.”
“One of those original students was Gayle Moran Norcross, who helped out at my show this year,” related Richards.
Today, Beverly Richards can proudly claim that she has introduced and taught dance to hundreds of local girls and boys. One of her students was her son, James, who was also a talented singer and multi-sport athlete who would sing the National Anthem in uniform before St. Mary’s High School football games. James helped St. Mary’s win a Super Bowl in 2005.
What has helped her set the foundation to 40 years of excellence in her profession?
“I love dancing,” said Beverly. “I love the rapport with the kids. I love watching them grow and their education enhance. I think a reason why I’m still around, is that we do a lot of community service. Our dancers performed at the Fishermen’s Feast Friday and at Eastie Pride Day Saturday.”
The next generation in the Richards/Buckley family has taken the stage. Beverly’s granddaughter, 4-year-old Emma Buckley, daughter of James and Katie Buckley, has been a student at the Dance Center since the age of two. 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 at Melrose High School. And come the week of September 12, Beverly Richards will begin anew – continuing her legacy of making East Boston kids’ futures brighter and better, gifted with a combination of confidence, self-esteem, and teamwork that comes through dancing and performing.