Elizabeth Olsen's Spellcasting Training Involved Dance
When Elizabeth Olsen was doing the rounds promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron seven years ago, no one knew whether she was going to become a big star of upcoming Marvel movies and TV series or would quietly be killed off and never seen again (we are referring here both to her character and to the actress herself). Still, the media people carried out their role, introducing everyone to Wanda. Watching the movies, even all of us who'd never read a comic knew the name "Scarlet Witch."
That's quite impressive. Because no one in the movies ever says that name out loud, not even once. It appears in the credits (along with Quicksilver, another name that goes unsaid) but never in dialogue in any of her four movies released so far. They mentioned it for the first time at the end of one episode of her series WandaVision, and you had to be aware that they'd been withholding the name to understand why they treated this ending line so dramatically. WandaVision came out in 2021, by which time Disney had bought 21st Century Fox and with it Wanda's full character, which had otherwise been partly tangled up with the X-Men.
During those press interviews, besides saying, "What's your character and what's with that accent," media folk had one other thing to talk about: Wanda's hand movements. Other superheroes flew and jumped in dangerous stunts or took part in elaborate stage combat, but Elizabeth Olsen just waved her hands around. A lot of the cast poked fun at this. Content warning: The following video contains James Corden, who some viewers may find disturbing.
The fingering, which Olsen dubbed "wiggly-woo," wasn't random improv. Olsen had a dedicated choreographer (or "movement coach")—Jennifer White, whose specialty is otherwise modern dance. In fact, in the longer version of that James Corden segment above, there are some scenes of Olsen teaching James dance moves, but those clips are so horrifying that we will not include them here, not even with a warning.
Jennifer White coached Olsen's movement in two more Avengers movies and is credited as her stunt double in Civil War. She was the movement coach in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil as well. Magic often looks a lot like dance. You can also check out Mads Mikkelsen, who in behind-the-scenes footage of Fantastic Beasts (if not in Doctor Strange), looks very much in time with music only he can hear.
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For more dancing behind the scenes, check out:
Top image: Walt Disney Pictures