Super Senior: Eleonora Stein - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Eleonora Stein

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QUECHEE, Vt. -

From the beginning, the young Eleonora was drawn to the stage.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So, you like the spotlight don't you?

Eleonora Stein: Oh, I love it... I think I danced before I walked.

It was an innocent time, but soon a dark cloud would envelop Europe. Nazi Germany was a power and then-Eleonora Reich was a Jew.

"Most of my family was in concentration camps," she said. "Quite a lot were gassed."

She and her immediate family were lucky. All of them left their native Hungary and ended up in New York. Eleonora spoke no English, but learned it fast. She earned a spot in the High School of Music and Art in New York, at first studying to become a dancer, but a heart murmur put an end to a promising career.

"It was such an emotion thing that I think I drew a blank since then," she said.

The dancer turned singer when she belted out a song to a classmate. A teacher was close by.

"And she said to me, 'Are you in the music department?' I said, 'No... I'm an art student.' 'Well, you should be!'" Eleonora recalled.

She started singing in Hungarian clubs in New York, then singing for the Roxy, it was a traveling music and dance troupe. She then tried out for a very big show. The Arthur Godfrey Show was a national TV program in the 1950s, but for Eleonora it's just like yesterday.

"Oh, I live it again!" she said.

She won that night's competition. Eleonora's singing was fine, and her face and body-- stunning; she knew it.

"Every dress I had was very low cut," she said.

She's now 87 living in Quechee.

"With a cane that has rhinestones on it! Oh, there you see I need it," she said.

Her balance is off and her knees are trouble, but that doesn't stop her from doing something she loves-- teaching Russian ballet in Vermont.

Joe Carroll: Do they listen?

Eleonora Stein: I have rules.

You see, she never left dancing. Eleonora had two dance studios in New Jersey. But in the 1980s, the divorced mother of two wanted to escape the hectic life of the city for the serenity of Green Mountains.

Tonight's class is for women over 50. They meet once a week for an hour, learning from the master Russian ballet techniques.

Joe Carroll: This is real exercise isn't it?

Eleonora Stein: It is. It's the best exercise there is because we work from the tip of the toe to the top of the head.

For Deborah Cahill, 56, Eleonora is an inspiration.

"She's wonderful," Cahill said. "I hope she lives forever!"

Another day, another class for Eleonora, doing what she is supposed to do-- showing that her life is a stage.

Eleonora is always looking for more dance students. Click here for more information on her school.

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