The Sara Mildred Strauss Papers document the professional life of Sara Mildred Strauss (Newman) through correspondence, professional papers, drafts of her writings, drawings, clippings, scrapbooks, and photographs of Strauss, her students, and some of the shows she choreographed. The majority of the material dates from the late 1920s to the 1960s and focuses on her professional life; only a small portion of the material documents her personal life. Several photographs of buildings in Austria and Germany from 1929-1930 might be of interest to researchers.
American dance teacher, choreographer, and author, Sara Mildred Strauss (1896-1979) was an influential, but somewhat forgotten physical fitness advocate whose long career also encompassed the spheres of concert and theatrical dance. Strauss published her first treatise, The Dance and Life (1916) at a relatively young age, but she was still active in the field some fifty years later, publishing Here an Inch, There an Inch (1966), a much more mature work that encapsulates the experience of her many years of teaching. After extensive study, she developed the Strauss method of body building and dance technique early on, opening schools that developed the skills of dancers. By the mid-1930s, her technique was being taught by trained instructors at Strauss School of the Dance outposts throughout the United States and in several other countries. In addition to training dancers, many famous actors studied body movement and posture in her studios. After a short stay in Hollywood, Strauss returned to New York and joined the teaching staff of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she remained for about fifteen years.
During the 1930s, Strauss also was particularly active as a dance presenter and choreographer. Her often experimental choreography was given in such serious concert venues, as New York's Guild Theatre and in 1932 she successfully collaborated with a group of dance professionals (which included Agnes De Mille) to lobby for the change of a bill that would allow dance performances to take place on Sundays in New York State (Strauss's own account of this incident can be found in box 2, folder 6). But Strauss's dance troupes, usually called the Sara Mildred Strauss Dancers or the Strauss Ballet also appeared frequently in vaudeville and Broadway revues, including Irving Berlin's As Thousand Cheer (1933) and Lew Brown's production of Calling All Stars (1934), featuring Ed Wynn. Strauss is also sometimes referred to by her married name, Sara Mildred Strauss Newman.