The Filament Theatre Ensemble is thrilled to announce that the 2012 recipient of Allie’s Gift is Vanessa Valliere.

Vanessa is a theatre artist with a diverse background including acting, physical theatre performance, clown, directing, and dance. Vanessa has performed and assistant directed at the Neo-Futurists, understudied and assisted at The New Colony, performed as back up dancer/clown for Steinomite and Sssnake (two Chicago musicians), performed in a devised piece for Collaboration’s Sketchbook, and performed with a vintage dance troupe called the Tackie Annies. She also performs and tours regularly as a cheerleader/clown for Mucca Pazza, Chicago’s own thirty-piece circus punk marching band.

Vanessa recently quit her day job to pursue her art full time. Her diverse talents, passion for her craft, and warmth and good humor exemplify so many of the qualities that Allie Powell demonstrated in her life. Vanessa will use Allie’s Gift to study with the internationally-renowned master teacher Paola Coletto. Her study is part of the creation of a solo show that will tour the country as part of New Belgium’s Tour de Fat, and ultimately land in Chicago for a hometown performance.

Allie’s Gift is an annual financial gift given to a Chicago artist in honor of Allison Powell, Filament’s business manager from February 2010 to her untimely passing on January 2, 2011. Allie had a business mind with an artistic heart. Like so many of us, Allie aspired to ultimately earn a living in the arts, but held day jobs in the meantime to support herself and save money for graduate school. As she wrote in her first correspondence with Filament when discussing her day job, “I love art, but I also love food.” She worked with us to begin setting a path for Filament to create a financially sustainable model where we may one day support an administrative staff as well as the artists who work with us. The Filament Theatre Ensemble will award Allie’s Gift annually on her birthday to one Chicago artist who demonstrates passion, dedication, and a love for their art in addition to a financial need.

We are so honored to be celebrating Allie’s memory through the giving of this award. Her parents, Dayle and Will Spencer, and friends Susanne Brooks, Luisa Engel, Sarah Yost, and Polly Wood have given generous donation tso the Allie’s Gift fund, ensuring that we could extend this gift in her honor. We are grateful to their contributions, just as we are grateful for Allie Powell, who continues to inspire all of our work.

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