Kitchell, Iva, 1908-1983

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American concert dancer and dance satirist.

Iva Kitchell achieved fame as a dance mime and comedienne with a natural bent for parody. Born in 1908 in Junction City, Kansas, as Emma Baugh, at age three she was adopted by the Robert W. Kitchells, and after early years of hardship and amateur dance recitals, she achieved her goal of joining the Chicago Civic Opera Ballet. Because she was too small to be a prima ballerina, as a member of the ballet corps she began amusing herself by making fun of the seriousness of the performances. Instead of being reprimanded, Kitchell was encouraged to develop her talent for humorous mimicry, and so she began her long career presenting comedic one-woman shows. Iva Kitchell based her comedy routines on the premise that there is "something ridiculous about anything that is too serious", and she vivaciously parodied all varieties of pretense in modern dance and classical ballet. Kitchell became internationally famous, traveling throughout the United States and Europe, and her solo performances backed by an imaginary "Invisible Ballet Company" assured her of twenty years as a successful and popular concert dancer. In 1933, Kitchell married painter and aeronautical engineer Stokely Webster, with whom she had one daughter, Stephanie. After retiring from public performing, Kitchell ran a ballet studio on Long Island, and later she and Webster relocated to Florida, where she died in 1983.

From the description of Iva Kitchell papers, 1926-1984, bulk 1926-1958. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 213408242

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Kitchell-Webster, Iva, 1908-1983. Iva Kitchell papers, 1947-1984. University of Central Florida, UCF
creatorOf Kitchell, Iva, 1908-1983. Iva Kitchell papers, 1926-1984, bulk 1926-1958. Newberry Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Chicago Civic Opera (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Kitchell-Webster, Iva, 1908-1983. person
associatedWith Midwest Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Newberry Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Webster, Stokely. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Ballet dancers
Manuscripts, American
Women comedians
Women dancers


Birth 1908

Death 1983

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w6xk8wg4

SNAC ID: 66100946