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Forest Deep :

A Rain Forest Trilogy

choreography by Pamela Ybarguen-Stockman

librettos by Jacqpea Franco-Stockman


What can one say about "Forest Deep" that hasn't been said before? Probably a look back at its origins would be helpful.

In the summer of 1987 while browsing in a Houston flea market, Pam found an interesting dress, an original design for $15. She bought the dress with the idea of using it as a costume, and if not she said, "I'll wear it myself, after all, it is a beautiful dress!"

Jump forward to the summer of 1993, since the purchase of the dress, it has been hanging in the front costume storage room for 6 long years, just waiting for the right piece to come along. A former company member, Sonny Tarnow, came home from Northwestern University and brought Pam a new cassette of music by 2 European composers, Eric Moquet and Michel Sanchez, the album was Deep Forest.

Pam listened to the music and immediately began to choreograph a new piece with a rain forest theme as an entry for an annual choreographic adjudication put on by the Houston Dance Coalition. A few days later, while setting the piece, former Discovery Dancer Missy Grant walked into the studio. She too, had gone off to college, and was returning home for the summer. She walked into the big studio and Pam was thrilled to see her again. Missy is a very tall graceful dancer who had studied under Pam since the age of 3. Once the greetings were over, Missy explained that she was tranfering from TWU to the U of H, and would be back in Houston, she asked Pam if she could rejoin the company, which Pam of course was thrilled to hear.

Pam then played the new music for Missy and, almost as if in a trance, she got up and walked out of the large studio, down the hall to the front costume storage room and went inside. A few moments later she emerged with the black and white dress she had purchased 6 years before at the flea market. She had found the piece she would use it in, a rain forest piece. Of course it fit Missy perfectly and worked fantastically in the dance. The dress became the focal point of the piece.

As Pam worked on the piece, creating floor patterns and movement that were designed to convey the life-giving essence of the rain forest, plants and creatures all living in harmony, Jacqpea listened to the music and composed a poem he called "Amazonia Green". It is styled as a Amazon Tribal Creation Myth...


Amazonia Green

by jacqpea franco-stockman 1999

Green vines cut through rain-spattered layers of vegetation

while faces of the rain-forest peer out of the living maze

She, who has created the world and carried it in Her belly,

tends her lush garden along the living serpentine river


All that lives in the garden is Her creation,

plants and animals, happy children of their mother, Amazonia

On wings in air, wet fins in water, soft steps on land...

they come together to touch and weave a world of green



Melodic voices of the rain-forest fill the moist air,

paying gentle homage to Amazonia, the Creator Goddess

She moves slowly through the forest, creating lines and angles

where no geometry exists, She draws stark images against the green



Her children the trees breathe out life and Her other children

breathe it in, while She hums a sweet lullaby and cradles them

And if the Termite People do not enter Her garden, it may yet survive,

along with its delicate balance of hunger & plenty, birth & death


  Amazonia Green is a celebration of life in the Amazon Rain-Forest. Untouched by civilization, voices sing, in a language that no one knows, but everyone understands, of the natural harmony between all the inhabitants of the ever-shrinking Rain-Forest. That last remnant of Earth's primeval birthing place, its home of creation, in a word... Eden


Amazonia Green was an instant hit, Pam got excellent reviews for her choreography, it won the adjudication, and was featured in the Dance Houston Concert at the University of Houston in the Fall of 1993. In early 1994 we performed in Arkansas at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas, and it was a huge success there, with standing-room-only audiences. The spring of 1994 the campus sponsor of the Houston Community College International Students Association heard about "Amazonia Green" and asked if we would perform it on Earth Day at HCC's main campus. She had invited a noted photo-journalist from Brazil to attend, Sr. Marcos Santilli would be presenting a lecture on the Amazon Rain Forest with slides of his work in the region for the last 20 years. We of course agreed to perform (given the chance a modern dance company would probably perform at a bank robbery!) and it was a wonderful event. We were most impressed with Marcos Santilli, he was a very erudite and interesting man, his work in Rondonia (a frontier state in western Brazil) was fantastic. We got an autographed copy of his latest book on the Amazon and left re-energized!

Pam immediately decided that she needed to create a longer version of "Amazonia Green", possibly a three-part dance concerning the rain forest. Jacqpea read Marcos' book and began writing children's poems about the rain forest for a possible educational dance project. In the summer of 1994 a school in Round Top, Texas called about a possible performance date in September, and Jacqpea told them about his educational program on the rain forest. They immediately agreed to bring Discovery to Round Top for a performance in September! Of course Jacqpea had no educational program on the rain forest, he only had a handful of short poems about parrots, lizards and rubber trees, so he broached the subject to Pam, could she put something together for a school performance? Certainly she could! And that is how RONDONIA - The Rain Forest in Words, Music & Dance was born, a wonderful project that we still present all over Texas.

That project stimulated Pam, she began to look for dark music to counter the lighter more optimistic music of "Amazonia Green". She found the work of Eric Sera especially interesting and found exactly what she was looking for on one of his albums. Jacqpea listened to it and sat down to write TREEFALL! a dark and foreboding poem about the devastating clear-cutting going on in rain forest all over the world.



T R E E F A L L !

by jacqpea franco-stockman 1995


Comes now the Dawn and with it rides Death on machines of steel,

driven by men with blades as sharp as razors

They sniff the wind to find their quarry

a tall stand near a meadow, where plants and animals coexist


In their haste, they crush and maim those lesser lights who fail the test

but once they find the ones they seek, nothing stands before their assault

Where once pine cones could be heard to fall

now machines do ravage both plants and peace


For War has been declared and God the Dollar is on their side

Chopsticks, kindling, newsprint and siding, so important in this modern world

Boom! goes the cannon of civilization - Crash! go the trees of our past

and while no prisoners are taken, casualties litter the ground



As they move, they leave a trail of death and destruction

displaced creatures flee the forest to never return again

Gentle folk who lived beside the giants of the forest

driven far from their homes, they watch the tree-line shrink


Echoes of Treefall fill the air as forest dwellers flee the battle

displaced refugees of the war seeking solace in the trees

"When will the sound of Treefall cease?" the refugees cry out in anguish

knowing only too well the answer... "When the last tree falls!"


Now that a plan for choreography was emerging, Pam discussed her ideas about the new pieces with Jacqpea and they listened to her last piece of music, it would be a sad lament for the lost and never recoverable virgin wilderness of the rain forest. Pam wanted to convey the sorrow we should all feel for the loss of the sacred sanctuary. Her plan was to use Amazonia Green as the opening piece, then Treefall, and close with the last piece. Jacqpea listened to her music and wrote the questioning poem "Prayers for the Dead". The poems and the dances point out that the future of the world's rain forest are in our hands, and that it is not just trees that fall, but an entire ecosystem, a very delicate and necessary part of all our lives.




by jacqpea franco-stockman 1995

from the East a sucking sound, as darkness swallows the day

and rosy skies in the West into purple darkness fade

day has died its singular death, so night is born again refreshed

and creatures of the dark abound, while She is but somber dressed

like a wraith She moves about, Her touch is soft and gentle

and sleeping flowers are aroused, opening up their colored petals

a quiet place she seeks to find, were stealth is prized by all

stillness brings its own reward, of silent feasting in the trees

and when done, the stars shine down on those creatures who have supped

wide-eyed minions of the nocturne, alert to sounds from far below

hear Her, your Mother, pray aloud to gods who fill the sparkling sky

and yet She pleads not for Herself, but offers prayers for you and I

and when the night fades to dawn, the wholesale carnage begins anew

a slaughter of the forest deep, bringing death to me and you

yet every night as Hesperus rises in the east once more,

at vespers does She genuflect, whispering prayers for the dead

once the forest has been destroyed, will She kneel at our funeral bier

and chant aloud Her sad goodbyes, those prayers for the dead?

and the Dead answer, "She shall!"


So there you have it, from a $15 dress purchased in a flea market way back in 1987, a series of unique and exciting circumstances are set off that culminates in a very successful and well received series of performances. Since Amazonia Green's debut at Dance Houston in the Fall of 1993, we estimate that well over 50,000 have seen it in its many incarnations. Not a bad return on an initial investment of $15 !



Intersection | Forest Deep | Reflections | We Are Travelers | Ancient Tribes | Swing Shift

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This page was last updated on June 17, 2000 by Jacqpea Franco-Stockman - MS- WebWeaver