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USM Theatre Students Earn Distinguished Lessac Practitioner Status, Awards

Wed, 05/18/2022 - 16:41pm | By: Ivonne Kawas

The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Lessac Kinesensic training program, a rigorous one-year Lessac voice and training curriculum offered by Theatre’s Master of Fine Arts in Performance degree, has announced its newest Lessac Voice and Body Practitioners. The group includes seven student practitioners who have completed the rigorous requirements to earn the distinguished designation.

Among this year’s cohort of new Lessac practitioners are the following students: Cody Alexander native of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Abigail Anderson native of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Tessa Anderson native of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Ellie Boykin native of Mobile, Ala.; Detalion Dixon native of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Camila Salas native of Quito, Ecuador; and Kevin Rains native of Jacksonville, Ala.

In addition, two students were honored with the 2022 USM Voice and Speech Awards for embodying and using the Lessac work above and beyond ordinary classroom participation.

The award recipients included Kevin Rains, recognized with the 2022 Arthur Award for excellence in voice and speech, and Cody Elsensohn, a native of New Orleans, La., recognized with the 2022 Sue Ann Park Award for being detailed-oriented, rigorous, and particularly adept at work connected to voice and speech training.

USM is the only graduate curriculum in the world to offer this practitioner opportunity for students. This unique training program offers a comprehensive and creative approach to all aspects of developing the body and the voice for speech and singing and as creative instruments of communication.

Cody Alexander enjoys the kinesensic approach to the training the most. “The way one can feel the technique being utilized in the vocal NRG's of consonant, tonal, and structural coupled with the body NRG's of buoyancy, radiancy, and potency,” he said. “This approach has been an extremely beneficial element to his training and progress as a kinesthetic learner.”

Through this program, students develop a unique skill set in which they learn ways to further incorporate effective and deep breathing, body alignment and flexibility, vocal and physical endurance, vocal resonance and power, articulation and intelligibility. Not only can students apply Lessac concepts theatrically, but they can also be employed in their personal, day-to-day lives.

Kevin Rains hopes to continue this work in an academic setting as a teacher specifically. “This work lends itself to the student so well and gives any actor so many tools that it is something I hope to pass on to others.”

The Lessac work primarily focuses on creatively training the voice to be healthy, which results in a voice that sounds and feels good and gives access to greater range of physical and vocal expression.

Detalion Dixon said he plans to use these techniques to measure his voice and body’s full potential. “I love the attention that this work brings to oneself and how they operate daily. The technique trains the mind to be aware that the mind, body, and voice are all connected and need one another operating at optimal capacity to properly function,” Dixon added.

The training is led by Robin Aronson, Professor of Voice and Acting in Theatre, who developed the plan for graduate students to learn the Lessac voice and body work for one-year as the foundation for their voice and speech work in the classroom, as well as in production. Each student was evaluated through a practical examination administered by Barry Kur, master teacher of Lessac Kinesensic, professor emeritus of theatre, Penn State University.

To learn more about the USM Theatre’s Lessac Kinesensic training program, visit: usm.edu/performing-visual-arts/lessac-kinesensics-training.php