Southern Miss earns international distinction as Lessac training site

Southern Miss earns international distinction as Lessac training site

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.

The University of Southern Mississippi is known throughout the southeast for its outstanding arts programs and is one of 36 institutions in the country to be accredited in all areas of the arts. Bringing further acclaim to the university is the announcement that Southern Miss is now an official training site for Lessac Kinesensics.

Lessac is a holistic approach to voice and body training that improves posture, breathing, body conditioning, vocal variety and contrast, and resonance and projection.

Theater professor Robin Aronson is one of 54 specially certified trainers in voice and body in the world and was fortunate to train with the late Arthur Lessac, the system's namesake and one of the most highly-regarded and original teachers in the world of voice, speech, singing and movement.

Aronson, a professor of voice and acting, said that Lessac training is one of only a handful of internationally recognized vocal training systems. It is a well known, highly respected and established system for actors and others individuals seeking vocal clarity and physical flexibility.

"The voice and speech classes at Southern Miss are designed to give graduate students a considerable advantage upon completion of this specialized training, as well as give them the opportunity to become a Lessac practitioner. This status can only help these graduate students in the profession, as well as academia," Aronson said.
The voice and speech curriculum, which is taught by Aronson and offered as a part of the Masters of Fine Arts in the performance program, provides three years of intense voice and speech training for performers focusing on vocal health for actors, voiceover acting, dialects, oral interpretation, musical theater and more.

As a part of this training, students participate in the Lessac Kinesensic Voice and Body training for two semesters and are eligible to pass a practitioner exam with a Master Lessac Teacher to be able to qualify for Practitioner status. The groundbreaking program is already yielding successful results at Southern Miss.

Aronson designed and implemented a plan of study for graduate students to learn the Lessac voice and body work as the foundation for their voice and speech work. In addition, the students are given the opportunity to reach Lessac Practitioner status, a prestigious level of achievement for voice and speech specialists. This is the first program to engage in this type of program globally, therefore, putting Southern Miss on the map as a leader in the voice and speech discipline.

"Any specialty skill we can offer these students to compete in the professional world of performance and academia is so vital for this day and age," Aronson said.

Recently, six alumni of Southern Miss earned their Lessac Practitioner status. Master Lessac Teacher Deborah Kinghorn, who was here to teach two master classes, administered the practitioner exam.

*Drew Davidson of Vernon, Kentucky graduated this past spring and is interested in performing and integrating his Lessac experience with improvision work and as well as using it to teach acting classes as an adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University this fall.

*Kendall Kiker, 2013 alumna and native of Young Harris, Georgia is teaching theater at Young Harris College. Kiker currently serves as board secretary for the Lessac Institute.

*Memphis native and 2015 graduate Michael Morrison is a professional actor in Houston, Texas. His credits are Main Street Theatre and Alley Theatre. Morrison is also the social media director for the Lessac Training and Research Institute.

*Devi Reisenfeld of Oxford, Ohio graduated this past spring and is interested in performing professionally in Chicago. A strong musical theatre performer, Reisenfeld cultivated her strong singing voice integrated with her healthy speaking voice usually the Lessac work as her foundation.

*Hillary Scales-Lewis from Hinesville, Ga., another spring 2016 graduate is putting her Lessac training to use in professional theatre and is currently working with the Savannah Stage Company. Hillary will be an adjunct professor of theatre at Kennesaw State University this upcoming fall.

*Rachael Swartz of Wooster, Ohio and 2014 graduate is a professional actress and former education director at Maples Repertory Theatre. This past year, Swartz was an adjunct instructor at Ashland University.

Thanks to many years of planning and hard work on the part of Aronson, this program is unique in the state of Mississippi and beyond.

"Southern Miss currently is the only program globally to offer this training curriculum for graduate students with the possibility of taking the Practitioner Exam with a Master Teacher," Aronson said. 
Aronson, who is also the current president of the Lessac Training and Research Institute, is looking to bring in additional Lessac trainers as guest artists to visit during the academic year and help strengthen the unique program by offering master classes and administering the practitioner exam. She is also planning on integrating the Lessac training not only in her voice classes but in the upcoming rock musical she is directing "Next To Normal" in the Department of Theatre this fall to keep actor's voices healthy, resonant and clear.