Fans of the Lev Grossman book series The Magicians have been thrilled with Syfy's adaptation of the same name. Season 2 of The Magicians, which premieres January 25 at 9/8c, picks up where last season left off, as Quentin Coldwater and his friends take on the mysterious Beast in the magical land of Fillory. Of course, magic means spells, and the spells in The Magicians incorporate Tutting, a form of breakdancing known for it’s intricate hand work and reliance on sharp geometric dance moves. All the spells on The Magicians are created by noted choreographer Paul Becker, whose work can also be seen in 2015’s The Descendants, the Twilight film series, and the Netflix show Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Paul spoke to Oxygen.com about his work on The Magicians and what makes a good choreographer.
How did you get started in dance?
Paul Becker: I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia and I started dancing at the age of 12. I was a B-Boy and taught myself how to break dance. Then I followed two girls into a dance class one day and got involved with every style there is. To make a long story short, I started doing choreography at a very young age, and have now done close to 200 TV shows and movies.
When you were breakdancing, was Tutting part of your routine?
I was actually doing more Power Moves and got into Tutting later on. The stuff we do in with the spells in The Magicians is very distinctive because it's all story related. Being a choreographer, that’s what I do, I tell stories, it’s not just random movements. Every move that’s created means something.
Were you a fan of The Magicians book series before getting involved with the TV show?
I’d heard of the books, and knew how huge they were, but I hadn’t read them. I don’t reference the books at all when I’m creating the spells. I’ll get a script and it will have all the spells described, what their cause and effect is, and what world we’re in. We’re in Fillory a lot this season, and the spells there are more organic. They come from the Earth, they flow, they’re very spiritual. The spells they do at Brakebills are very technical, very geometric, very sharp. More of a classical type of Tutting. We’ve really created a vocabulary of spells that we need to stick to. There are some spells that are repeated throughout the season, or season one spells that are added to in season two. It’s pretty cool to see their development.
What are some of things people don’t realize a choreographer does?
Choreography is the art of storytelling. A choreographer isn’t someone on YouTube who puts up videos of cool dance moves. A choreographer is someone who can tell stories with or without dance moves. A lot of times you’ll get a script and it will just say, “They dance.” Well, why are they dancing? How is their dance going to move the story forward? If there’s no reason for it, the scene should be deleted.
A lot of great choreographers go onto to directing because the dance moves dictate where the camera angles should be. I just directed a feature called Breaking Brooklyn, which is in post-production. It’s funny, I posted some rehearsal footage from my work on A Series of Unfortunate Events on Instagram, and someone said to me “Oh there’s not much dancing in there.” What they didn’t know was the rehearsal footage that I edited together was used as the shot list that the video editor then used as a guideline for the actual editing of the scene.
What are you most excited for fans to see in season two of The Magicians?
Before we started shooting, the producers called to say we needed to have a meeting because "we’re going full force with this season.” There’s more magic, more Tutting and more action. So that’s what I’m excited about and it was exciting to create it too.
Season 2 of The Magicians premieres on Syfy Jan. 25 at 9/8c.