Study of Soft

How do you get to soft?

2nd Skin


Year-long exploration (2010)


How do you get to soft? How do you know what soft is when you get there? What edges, what places do you have to investigate before you understand what soft is? Is soft a state of mind? Is soft a physical presence? What is it?

Study of Soft was a year-long movement exploration and performance series initially inspired by and dedicated to Bay Area Butoh teacher Hiroko Tamano that sought to answer these questions through somatic intensity and groupspeak—a unique movement vocabulary capable of moving witnesses to a state of extraordinary being. On one occasion, Bad Unkl Sista offered Study of Soft at CounterPULSE as part of a two-night double-bill with stilt-walking troupe and physical theater company Carpetbag Brigade, performing a culmination of this investigative work, taking as it central animating theme the necessity of going to different edges to arrive at softness.

Throughout the piece, accompanied by live music and singing by Totter Todd, Bad Unkl Sista offered witnesses an entrance point into the question of softness through the intensity of vulnerability. As Anastasia Louise explains, “When you watch the performances of Study of Soft, it does not look so soft. It looks intense. But at the end of that intensity, there is this stillness and this quiet that is brought into in an “other” state—a state brought in because of the intensity of the vulnerability of the pieces. Bad Unkl Sista tends to take it to the sharp edge. For a witness, it needs to be very clear that something is being pushed, and offered. This allows the witness to take that softness into the being. You may not know any of the story or you may create different stories for each witness, but each witness is going to see that hard edge. Its part of every piece that we do.”