Fantastic Beasts: Watch the Harry Potter Professor’s Show Read Journalist’s Wand Tricks

The Wizarding World Wand Tour has transformed Reading’s Oracle Riverside into a spell-casting center.

Harry Potter star wand battle choreographer Paul Harris put me through my paces in a practice session in front of nine 150-foot replica wands from the franchise.

The installation is in Reading until April 4 as part of a four-city tour of the UK to promote the new spin-off Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets.

I have the balance of a Koala and the hand-eye coordination of Rob Green circa 2010, so I was afraid even the “world’s only stick fight choreographer” could teach me.

Paul was commissioned by director David Yates to create “wand language” that would become the basis for famous movie moments like Voldermort and Dumbledore’s battle and Sirius Black’s death sequence.

“It’s really a question of intention. Without intent, it’s just waving a stick,” Paul said, when I asked him what advice he gave Daniel Radcliff on set.

“The other thing that was really important to me was the swish and flick. It’s in the first movie.

Although I was acutely aware that I was no dancer and couldn’t land a karate chop if my opponent was a barn door, I took the stage

He continued: “Gary Oldman got those two things instantly.”

“He was fantastic because he fully understood the need to have a language, that it wasn’t just about ‘pointing a stick’.”

When introduced to the crew of the fifth film, Order of the Phoenix, Paul was faced with a challenge: every spell mentioned in the books had been seen on screen before without wand conventions.

“I thought: if all Kung Fu choreography, if all ballet choreography can come from a set of fixed positions, I can do it.

Although I was acutely aware that I was no dancer and couldn’t land a karate chop if my opponent was a barn door, I went with Paul to the stage outside Pizza Hut and we we fought.

My first test was the first position, where the caster holds the wand above his head in an arch like a scorpion’s tail, whips his arm back and pulls forward.

On my first attempt Paul suggested I looked like I was throwing a rock at a passerby and I’m sure I caught the security guards smiling.

Luckily the wand, a replica of Dumbledore’s, remained in my hands and I pressed position two: chest-high throw with my right hand under my left arm.

According to my mentor, it was my best move, but I couldn’t help but think the bar was pretty low.

Paul’s enthusiasm for art was captivating and by the third spell I felt the need to impress him.

It involved twisting and doing a surprise attack with my wand behind my back.

He seemed happy with my performance, but in my opinion, the coat I was wearing was more of an actor than me.

Then it was time to fight

We faced off on the red carpet, eyes crossed, a bead of sweat running down my forehead.

I hit Paul with a surprise position two, but he blocked me with a shield-style spell.

We froze in combat, our powers biting into the air between us but the master was too strong, and the student’s arm was thrown back.

“Your line and form didn’t resemble any of the main characters, but a lot of the stunt team,” Paul said.

“You are really solid, you have a very good center and a good line. Your instinct was to bring your body weight into the movement, which suggests you’d probably be good at boxing.

Despite his compliments, the fact that he didn’t say I looked like any of the main actors made it clear that I was never going to be a Harry Potter. Still, I came in feeling like a Dudley, but maybe I left closer to a Longbottom.

If you want to feel the magic like me, Paul will be training local schoolchildren to cast spells at 7pm today and at 7.30pm – 7.45pm the Mayor of Reading will turn on the lights of the nine giant wands.

Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets hits theaters April 8.

Floyd N. Morlan