Gen’s Dance Studio of Concord celebrates 50 years of dancing from the heart

  • From left: Shanmei Zeng, Destiny Locke and Esha Camacho get ready backstage for their dance numbers on Saturday.

  • Lucy Abbott, Emma Audet, Aulianna Buss, Brookelyn Carter, Kaylie Conway, Taylen Conway, Nora Gale, Kloe Kapos and Georgia Skafidas peform “€˜Spotlight”™ during the Gen’€™s Dance Studio 50th annual recital at the Concord City Auditorium on Saturday. TOP: Gen Woodward with her granddaughters Ellianna, 10, and Bryn, 7, backstage before the show. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Gen Woodward with her granddaughters Ellianna, 10 and Bryn, 7, backstage before the show. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

For the Monitor
Published: 5/25/2019 9:27:04 PM

Gen Woodward has danced on the stages of the World’s Fair and she once performed an acrobatic solo at the United Nations. But her true calling has always been close to home, and that’s where she’s stayed for the past 50 years, passing along her skills and passion to generations of Concord area students.

Woodward has owned and run Gen’s Dance Studio since 1969, and she marked her 50th recital on Saturday at the Concord City Auditorium in a show that included about 20 of her former students from every decade the studio has been open.

“It would have been a big regret if I hadn’t got these people together to make this 50th even more special,” she said.

Woodward says she’s taught “thousands and thousands” of local dancers, including the children and grandchildren of some of her first students. And while she’s instructed them on proper technique for ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical styles, she’s also worked to instilled her mantra: “Count in your head, but dance from your heart.”

Woodward herself was a local dance student. She started at age 5, first at Mrs. Demers’ Dance Studio in Concord and then at Sally Zyla’s Dance Studio in Manchester.

After graduating from Bishop Brady High School and working at her father’s grocery for a year, she married her high school sweetheart in 1969 and bought a building on North State Street, out of which she would operate Gen’s Dance Studio for the next 35 years.

“It was pretty crazy, when I first opened up. We had this one little room, and it was the waiting room – it was where I taught,” Woodward recalled.

From humble beginnings, her studio achieved national success. In 1998, “Miss Gen,” as she is known by her students, led a junior competition team all the way to New Jersey, where they won a title in their age division.

A couple of moves to two different Manchester Street locations later, Woodward is still the principal teacher.

“I’m a one-man show,” she said. “I do all my book work, order the costumes, pick them out, set up for the show … You know, when you set up for a show every year, it’s almost like booking a wedding.”

Woodward credits her husband with enabling her to dedicate five decades to her career. After coming home from work, Chuck cared for their three sons while Woodward headed to the studio to teach late into the evening.

“Without my husband, I could have never made it 50 years,” she said. “I never had to worry.”

Woodward is adamant that the doors of Gen’s Dance Studio will stay open.

“This is not my last year ... As long as I stay healthy, I’m there,” she said. “I’m there and looking forward to getting in my car and driving to my studio and teaching.”

“Not once have I ever gotten in my car and drove to my studio and said, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” she said.

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