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Harry Potter wand duels were designed as dance sequences

Wand duels in the Harry Potter movies weren't all that exciting at first, until a dance choreographer was brought in to make them more physical

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

The Harry Potter wand duels are some of the best scenes in the fantasy movies. All the elaborate movements and cool names, plus how they look when they fire. They were designed by a choreographer, Paul Harris, who had his doubts at the beginning.

“[David Yates] wanted a movement for a spell,” Harris told FanFest. “But when I went away and read the books, properly, and watched the films with a different eye, I said, “I can’t do that. I can’t do what you want me to do because every single spell was being seen. Every spell that’s been written has been seen already with little to no physical action.'”

This was for the Harry Potter movie Order of the Phoenix, the fourth instalment in the family movie franchise. Before now the Hogwarts students were relatively young, and the war with Voldemort was just spilling over. Therefore, it was decided that more physical spells could be introduced to mark a turning point to more serious spellcasting. Yates believed it’d be a hallmark of the fandom.

“We got to the stage where Voldemort waved his arm and Harry Potter dropped his wand,” Harris explained. “So the parameters were, needing to say the name of the spell for it to work, to not even needing a wand. That was the range of movement.”

He continues: “And I remember saying to David, ‘There has to be some physical element, because what makes one wizard better than another? It can’t just be they bought a better wand. There has to be something. From the inner power of the wizard to manifesting itself physically.'”

Harris points out that it seemed bizarre at the time, but Yates believed in years to come, kids would be bouncing around shouting ‘Leviosa!’ at each other, and he was right.