Hull has been in a magical mood over the past week, with the Wizarding World Wand Tour taking center stage in the middle of Queen Victoria Square.
Just outside Hull Town Hall, nine 15ft wands were displayed, featuring replicas from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts film franchises.
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The people of Hull have been mesmerized by the wands of Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore and Newt Scamander, to name but a few, and the enchanting display is here for just one more day.
When the wands were first unveiled in downtown Hull, I went to meet Paul Harris, a wand choreographer who worked on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to develop the style of wand battles.
Paul said he could teach me a thing or two about how to use a wand – was I ready for that?
First, I needed a wand.
I was given a replica of Newt Scamander’s wand from the Fantastic Beasts movies and it looked like a real prop – light, but firm and beautifully painted.
With a swish and a flick, I was ready for action.
When I met Paul, he struck me as quite an eccentric character, which I guess you probably have to be if you want to be a professional choreographer.
We wasted no time getting started, as Paul taught me the value of using your free hand as well as the one holding your wand when casting a spell.
You need to use this free hand to accentuate the casting motion with your wand hand, either to provide protection or to really sell the effort such a spell costs to perform in the heat of the moment.
As for the wand hand, you have to follow the movement of the arm with a flick of the wrist if you really want to get the most out of your spell.
It’s these little details that are all important when you design the choreography for such an acclaimed film franchise. No stone (or dare I say, wrist) is left unturned.
Paul explained that another key part of the wand choreography is to strengthen your legs with a slight bend so that you are ready to move at all times.
Another important thing he mentioned was to really let the effort of the spell show in your face, which made me wince as I cast a spell on a helpless observer.
It took me a few tries to get the arm move right before Paul was satisfied (“Don’t stab! Swing!”) and then we moved on to the next part of the workout.
Now that I had successfully cast a spell, it was time for me to learn how to block a hostile spell.
Paul cast a spell and asked me to catch him with my wand like I was holding a rounders bat. I then had to tremble with the effort to fend off such a curse.
As Paul’s magic began to overpower me (like the complete muggle that I am), I had to bend over and cower because the power of his spell was getting too strong.
The moment my guard was broken, I nearly stumbled across a part of the set that made Paul laugh, leaving me wide open for the mother of all sassy remarks: “Enjoy your trip, fall next !”
Oh the shame!
I had a great time during wand practice, and even got to keep the wand at the end, which was a bonus.
The Wizarding World Wand Tour is in Hull until Tuesday March 8, when it travels to Birmingham, then Stoke, before finishing in Reading.
The tour is being held to celebrate the upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which will open in cinemas on April 8.
If you haven’t been to see the wands yet, don’t miss your chance – head to Queen Victoria Square and experience the magic for yourself.
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