April 25, 2019  

Current weather

Overcast, mist, rain, 66.2 °F

USM's Elite Lessac Practitioner Training Program Expands as Alumni, Current Theatre Students Earn Practitioner Status

Main Content
Pictured left to right: Crockett Ward, Master Lessac Teacher Barry Kur, Shley Snider, Shelley Johnson, Adam Sechelski. In the back: Jeremy Bukauskas. (Submitted photo)

Three current Master of Fine Arts in Performance students at The University of Southern Mississippi and two MFA alumni have completed the rigorous requirements to earn the distinguished Lessac practitioner designation.

Current students achieving Lessac practitioner status (with hometowns):

  • Crockett J. Ward, Loyd Star, Miss.
  • Jeremy Bukauskas, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Shley Snider, Canton, Ohio

MFA in Performance alumni achieving practitioner status (with hometowns):

  • Adam Sechelski, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Shelley Johnson, New Orleans, La.

Lessac Kinesensic Training is a comprehensive and creative approach to developing the voice and the body in a holistic way, resulting in greater flexibility and power and improved expressiveness and communication. Kinesensics identifies simple but potent natural behaviors of the body (“familiar events”) which become powerful, organic instructions for creating desired improvements in vocal or physical function, resulting in a more healthful, enjoyable life.

Robin Aronson, Professor of Voice and Acting in the USM Department of Theatre, is president of the Lessac Training and Research Institute and the only certified trainer in Mississippi. At USM, Aronson has cultivated a strenuous one-year Lessac voice and training curriculum as a part of the MFA in Performance program. After the training is completed, students are eligible to achieve practitioner status toward Lessac certification.

Under Aronson’s leadership, USM is the first graduate program in the world that has established this curriculum through the Lessac Training and Research Institute, thus solidifying the University’s reputation as the leader in voice and body training on a global level.

Each student was evaluated through a practical examination administered by Barry Kur, master teacher of Lessac Kinesensics, professor emeritus of theatre, Penn State University. During his residency, Kur also offered master classes in stage dialects to theatre undergraduate and graduate level classes. Kur noted that he “enjoyed his visit to the USM Theatre Department.”

“The practitioner candidates were well prepared and eager to extend to achieve this level of master of the work,” said Kur. “It was great to be back in the classroom to teach dialects, especially since all of the students utilized the textbook (‘Stage Dialect Studies – authored by Kur).”

Ward said he uses the Lessac training to better comprehend the use and function of his body's energy.

“This work provides me with a base for understanding the 'feeling process' which is often referred to as ‘Life.’. Life is about feeling; Lessac is about deciphering and discovering what these feelings do to our bodies,” he said. “Being a Lessac Practitioner assists me because it has prepared me to feel before I pass judgment, whether on myself or another party. This work allows me to go into an audition, rehearsal, or performance, with the tools necessary to feel the energy another person is giving me and respond appropriately.

Bukauskas notes that Lessac provides a truly one-of-a-kind bridge between singing and speaking.

“I’ve been singing and acting my whole life practically, and when I started Lessac training, although, with some troubles, I found genuine enjoyment in relishing the waves of resonant vibrations, the same pleasure I felt from singing,” he said. “I plan on using Lessac work in my use of being an Actor in Chicago, along with helping further the joys of the explorations around the Chicago theatre and collegiate communities.”

Said Snider: “I have already started using Lessac as a vocal and dialect coach for a number of different productions. I plan to continue to do so, and to use it in upcoming voiceover and musical theatre work next year.”

Sechelski can envision himself using Lessac work to engage high school students and beyond in their musical theatre work to gain a better understanding of their instrument and how to use it.  

“Becoming a Lessac practitioner allows me to get more involved in the institute and further explore the work for the purpose of gaining a better understanding for myself and in turn my students at every level,” he said.

Johnson added: “Lessac is not only part of my everyday life as an actor and teacher but also Lessac is my core training with my talented theatre students in Mandeville, Louisiana.” 

To learn more about the Lessac training program in the USM Department of Theatre, visit: https://www.usm.edu/theatre/lessac-kinesensics-training