Dancing your way to good sleight of hand (Part 1): Making your own loops

Dancing your way to good sleight of hand (Part 1): Making your own loops

Have you ever wanted to make your own loops?

We're not referring to bands of invisible thread, but rather Ben Earl’s ingenious tool for developing slick sleight of hand (an approach we’re very grateful he has shared with the community).

When practicing, we traditionally just repeat the same move over and over again to ingrain it into muscle memory. The problem is this only teaches the sleight itself, devoid of context or natural movement, resulting in rather blocky sequences and an overall choppy feel. 

Loops are different; sequences of moves linked together in a pleasing, repetitive flow. Each sleight blending seamlessly into the next over the sequence, ending in the same position as you began. They focus on going into and out of moves—transitioning between moves rather than the moves themselves. Obviously the move itself should inevitably improve, but it’s not the main focus. This results in a much higher hand intelligence and ability to execute more deceptive technique when it matters.

It's the start of Year 3 in The Family, and loops have been a standout addition for many. Take a look at an excerpt from a Meditations practice video for the DPS below:

The big question currently going around The Family Forum is how to construct loops for the sleights you want to practice yourself? The answer is pretty straightforward. Any move(s) can be linked together to form a loop; all that's required is patience and the willingness to engage in creative play. 

Identify the sleights you want to develop a loop for, and then think about how the end position of one (both in the hands and body) is most similar to the start position of another. They don't have to start and end in the same place directly—minor adjustments are fine, but closer positions are better. Continue linking and playing with those positions. That's it. 

Once you have a pleasing loop, drill it for a while and then switch things up. Keep the same components but rearrange their order. A fun game is to assign each move a number from one to six and roll dice to determine the order. 

If you do this for long enough, you'll realize you can link multiple loops together, transitioning seamlessly from one to another. The play of developing them is just as valuable as the practice itself. Eventually, all your actions will feel cohesive and 100 times more effortless.

Loops are supposed to be challenging and push your skill beyond what is required in performance, so embrace the challenge. 

Sleights rarely exist in isolation. 

There is no beginning or ending. 

Just flow. 

For more ways to enhance your practice time, check out the 'Drills' videos in The Family and essays in the Shift series.

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