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Elisa Stigler Papers

Identifier: Dance-MS-Stigler

Scope and Content of the Collection

Materials, both hand-written and printed, relating to teaching dance, primarily instructions and notation.

The bulk concerns Spanish dance but includes instructions in performing dances of other cultures such as Hawaiian, Hungarian, Indian, Javanese and Mexican, as well as of ballet. There are a few pieces of correspondence, including two short letters from Jose Greco and several from ballet master Serge Oukrainsky, and a small collection of articles, advertising, memorabilia, programs and catalogs, all concerned with Elisa Stigler’s career as a teacher of the dance.


  • Creation: 1930-1983



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Elisa Stigler Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Elisa Stigler Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Elisa Stigler

Chicago ballet and Spanish dancer and dance teacher.

Born in England in 1904, Elisa Stigler (also called "Elsie") was brought to Chicago by her mother in the 1920’s, where she began an intensive study of the ballet with Edna McRae. She developed a special interest in mastering techniques of Spanish dancing at which she soon excelled, and her expert castanet playing was renowned. She studied authentic Spanish dance with many teachers, including Angel Cansino, becoming adept at analyzing the intricate rhythms and nuances of the Spanish style.

Stigler was just as analytical about ballet, and as a teacher she was interested in the basics of technique and in terminology. For many years she was an officer of the Chicago National Association of Dancing Masters, teaching at the Chicago Musical College, which later became part of Roosevelt University. She also performed locally, participated in many dance workshops, lectured at the University of Chicago and wrote several books on dance, including one on castanet techniques.

Elisa Stigler died in 1973.


0.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


Materials relating to the career of Chicago dance teacher Elisa Stigler, primarily a performer and instructor in the techniques of Spanish dancing, but also a teacher of the dances of other cultures and of ballet. Includes copious handwritten notations and mimeographed instruction for teaching a wide range of dances, both American and foreign, a few articles and letters, catalogs, programs and some miscellaneous memorabilia.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence and Miscellaneous, undated, 1943-1983
Box 1
Series 2: Dance Teaching Materials, approximately 1930-1980
Boxes 1-2

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 13


Gift of Charlotte Bocchino, 1986.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith.

Inventory of the Elisa Stigler Papers, 1930-1983
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States