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Haila Strauss


Professor Emerita of Theatre Arts


Theatre Arts





Haila Strauss, MA, has served on the MMC faculty for 38 years. Administratively, Miss Strauss built the Dance Department from 12 to 70 students, co-chaired the Musical Theatre Minor, and coordinated the MMC Continuing Education Department’s Fitness Instructor Certification Program, which for 18 years was the only program of its kind on the East coast. Currently, Miss Strauss coordinates the Theatre Department’s BFA Acting program’s Movement for Actors curriculum. For MMC’s theatre and dance curricula, Miss Strauss introduced several new courses, i.e., Jazz Dance Technique, The Cultural Dynamics of Social Dance, and Movement Coaching for Acting II, III and IV.

Miss Strauss began her dance training/performing at the age of 3 1/2 in Brooklyn. For 15 years, she studied with Marjorie Mazzia, a former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company. She was fortunate to have trained with the foremost Modern dance innovators of the 20th century – Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais and Merce Cunningham. Strauss continued her dance studies at Sarah Lawrence College (BA) where she studied composition with Bessie Schonberg. In addition to studying dance, Miss Strauss was also a pre-med major. In her junior year, Miss Strauss began choreographing for The Everyman Street Theatre Company whose Artistic Director was Geraldine Fitzgerald. Following graduation, Miss Strauss continued to choreograph professionally. She has staged over 250 dances for New York, regional and MMC theatres, film, television and the concert stage.  Outstanding productions include Paul Green’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Lost Colony, The Roundabout Theatre’s long-running revival of Harold Rome’s Pins and Needles, the regional premiere of The Robber Bridegroom at The Alliance Theatre, the Princeton Triangle Show and Kuni Leml, winner of four Outer Circle Drama Critics’ Awards.  

At MMC as Movement Consultant and Choreographer for 33 of the Theatre Department’s productions, Miss Strauss has had the great joy to work with the current Faculty Directors Ellen Orenstein, David Mold, Richard Niles, John Basil, Antonio Suarez, Mary Fleischer and Kevin Connell on a wide range of plays from Shakespeare and Restoration Comedies, to Strindberg and Nottage. 

For the Dance Department, Miss Strauss choreographed and created four full-length ballets for the MMC Children’s Dance Theatre in addition to 20 smaller dances ranging in dance styles from modern, tap, ballet and musical theatre styles. In addition, Miss Strauss created the MMC Dance Company which performed in elementary schools, high schools and nursing homes on the East Coast. 

Currently as Director of her own enterprise, The Special Dance Workshop for Actors and Singers, Miss Strauss coaches performers for Broadway, film, and television auditions.  She received her MA in Dance Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. Her most recent award is Backstage Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Dance Teacher.


B.A., Sarah Lawrence College M.A., Teachers College, Columbia University

Recent Work

Backstage Magazine Readers’ Choice Award Best Dance Teacher.

Director Special Dance Workshop for Actors and Singers training professional performers for auditions and performance for Broadway, television and film.


MMC - Movement for Actors I

          -Movement for Actors II

        - The Cultural Dynamics of Social Dance

        - Movement Coaching for BFA courses Acting II, III, IV

Professional Experience

Choreographer for over 250 productions for stage, film and television.


Nugent Hall, Room 152B