November 12, 2018  

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Theatre Professor, Program Alumna Continue International Advancement of Lessac Kinesensics

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USM theatre professor Robin Aronson conducts Lessac Kinesensics Training recently in Manila, Philippines with participants in a five-day workshop hosted by the Philippine Educational Theatre Association.

A University of Southern Mississippi (USM) faculty member renowned for her expertise in the holistic and creative voice and body development known as Lessac Kinesensics Training, taught and conducted Lessac Kinesensics Practice-Based Research in Manila, Philippines recently along with a USM alumna.

Robin Aronson, professor of voice in the USM Department of Theatre and a Lessac Certified Trainer, and Southern Miss graduate Rachael Swartz, a Lessac Practitioner and an assistant professor at Emory and Henry College in Virginia, worked with resident theatre artists associated with the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) to cultivate a global reputation for Lessac Voice and Speech at Southern Miss in Southeast Asia. PETA is the largest theatre organization in the Philippines.

The Lessac Kinesensics Voice and Body Training is a respected and established system for individuals seeking vocal clarity and physical flexibility. The aims of the research project include training theatre practitioners and professionals to use the Lessac training for their voice, speech and body work.

Aronson was invited by Pam Ovejas, head of production at PETA, to lead Lessac Voice and Body Workshops with its resident theatre artists. Aronson and Swartz worked with PETA’s resident company, leading two workshops consecutively each day for five days. Each workshop had approximately 15 participants made up of resident company members, apprentices and non-theatre professionals from the community.

“My goal was that participants could gather the tools to promote vocal health on and off stage. Ultimately, the Lessac work is meant to empower the individual to live optimally, free of physical and vocal tension, so they can effectively communicate in whatever capacity they need,” Aronson said.

Swartz said the Lessac work has “a gentle approach to exploring the relationships between breathing and posture, vocal clarity, healthy resonance, articulation, musicality as well as physical flexibility.”

“Work was completed in coaching both English as well as Filipino (primarily Tagalog) on things like residual tensions in the Filipino Ah (as in spa) vowel, creating a tall shape and space when speaking for seamless transitions from language to language and speech to song, and striving for a release in the tensions caused by a very harsh outer environment.” Swartz said.

At the end of the workshop, every participant expressed their ‘Passionate Statement of Concern’ in both English and Tagolog. This exploration encouraged the participant to use their own unique voice to express their point of view, using the Lessac work to empower the individual and keep their voices and bodies healthy and thriving.

Rico Duran del Rosario, an actor and member of PETA, said Lessac “makes acting fun again.”

“In the results-driven world the theater can sometimes become, the actor is prone to injury in striving to deliver. Lessac brings you back to your center, where you operate freely and body-intelligently as you service the play,” del Rosario said. “This is why I joined another Lessac class - it's like coming back to your body and freeing your voice to speak with honesty, ease, and power.”

Swartz said the experience in Manila was essential to her focus on “employing theatre for social change, in cultivating a higher level of research, and in fueling my growth as an artist and educator.”

“The training I received at USM provided the foundation, and the network we have as alumni provided this life-altering opportunity,” she continued.

Aronson said working with Swartz “is always exciting and seamless, since our styles complement each other, and our goals are in alignment.”

“We both immediately understood the goals for this research trip, which allowed us to train these participants with tools for vocal health and longevity on and off stage, whether they were using English or Tagalog,” Aronson said.

Aronson is Immediate Past President of the Lessac Training and Research Institute, and the only certified trainer in Mississippi. She established Lessac voice and training curriculum as a part of USM’s MFA in Performance program. After completing the training, students can pursue practitioner status toward Lessac certification. USM is the first graduate program in the world that has established this curriculum through the Lessac Training and Research Institute, making it a global leader in voice and body training.

For more information about Aronson’s work at USM, visit https://www.usm.edu/theatre/faculty/robin-aronson.