Monday, April 15, 2024

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The Eras Tour cast: Meet Taylor Swift’s dancers, singers and band members

Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour has been out for a week on Disney+, and there’s no doubt some dedicated fans have watched it 13+ times. The three-and-a-half-hour phenomenon is a bedazzled force that moves through 49 songs from Swift’s 10 eras. The movie was shot over three nights in Los Angeles and included helicopter, drone and onstage camera angles. By now everyone knows the ringleader of The Eras Tour, but what about the cast and crew who shine alongside her?

Here’s a look at Swift’s six bandmates, four backup vocalists and 15 dancers featured in the film with the time stamps for when they appear on screen.

‘Strike the band up, 1… 2… 3…’

The Eras Tour band is led by Mike Meadows and Max Bernstein. Meadows has been with Swift for more than 15 years, starting on her “Fearless” tour. The guitarist also sings and plays keyboards, cello, harmonica and mandolin. In a cute TikTok, his wife shared a compilation video from Nissan Stadium about how proud she is. Swift places her arm on Meadows during “Love Story” at 33:12.

Max Bernstein rocks out on the guitar, keyboards and pedal steel, which is a steel guitar with pedals and knee levers. He shared a post on Instagram with the caption, “So incredibly grateful to be a little part of the biggest and best show.” He joined Swift for the “Reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018. His parents are journalists Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein, and his brother Jacob is a reporter for The New York Times. Bernstein is to the right of Swift and her “Fearless” heart hands at 26:12.

Paul Sidoti may be the most well known band member. His distinct rocker hair is almost as big as his stage presence. Sidoti has been a vocalist and guitarist with the singer since 2007. He is approachable on the tour and has taken photos with fans in the audience. Sidoti’s website also says he’s available for “online guitar, bass, and piano lessons via Zoom.” Swift touches Sidoti’s face during “You Belong With Me” while singing “you’ve got a smile that can light up this whole town” at 28:15.

Amos Heller is the bassist. Like many of Swift’s bandmates, the husband and father of three has been with her since 2007. Heller picked up his first electric bass at 13. His cover of Metallica’s “Blackened” shows he’s a master thrasher. Swift struts with Heller during “You Belong With Me” at 27:58.

Ooomph! Matthew Billingslea is the drummer crashing the cymbals, beating the toms and pedaling the bass. In 2023, he was nominated for pop drummer of the year at the Drumeo Awards. Billingslea joined Swift’s band in 2013 for the Red Tour. Billingslea pops up during “Fearless” at 25:38.

Rounding out the bandmates is Karina DePiano. The classically trained pianist gets a shoutout from the singer following Swift’s performance of “Champagne Problems.” DePiano performs an interlude at 50:35 while Swift sets a table before singing “Tolerate It.” DePiano started 2024 with a Pianote nomination for pop pianist of the year.

‘We sing it proudly’

The fearless ladies who make up Swift’s choir are “The Starlights.”

Up first is Melanie Nyema, the section leader. The vocal virtuoso has backed many artists including Gladys Knight, Sara Bareilles, Solange Knowles, Florence + The Machine and Imagine Dragons. She’s been with Swift since 2012 when she performed “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” at the VMAs. Check out her spiritual version of “Gotta Have You.” Nyema is left of Swift at 30:33 when she hugs “The Starlights.”

Kamilah Marshall is the vocalist dance captain. Marshall came into the fold during the Red Tour. Her song “Canyon” showcases her writing and singing in an outpouring of gratitude. The Broadway actress has credits including “Hairspray” and “Lion King.” In 2021, she told the Academic Magnet High School newspaper in South Carolina, “I know I’m supposed to be doing what I do.” You can also see her in the dinner scene of “All Too Well: The Short Film.” Marshall is the “cheer captain” on the left at 28:52 during the “Fearless” era.

Jeslyn Gorman joined Swift during her Red Tour. The vocal riffer has a song, “Falling Like Snow,” and has toured with stars Meghan Trainor, Jason Derulo, Rita Ora and Nick Jonas. The Florida native and latte enthusiast moved to Los Angeles. Gorman, like the other “Starlights,” thanked Swift on her birthday, “Your heart and generosity is beyond BEYOND. And just when I think you’ve DONE IT, you TOP THAT!” Gorman shimmies at 32:40.

Eliotte Woodford wears the purple “Speak Now” dress and bangs the side of her vitrine during the “Look What You Made Me Do” portion of the Eras Tour at 1:07:38. Woodford has been with Swift since 2013. The wife and mother graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a part of the a cappella group the “Mosaic Whispers.” Her singing and dancing reel shows her early work with Swift.

‘I don’t wanna dance if I’m not dancing with you’

Fifteen dancers led by choreographer Mandy Moore and associate choreographers Amanda Balen and Jeremy Hudson create some of the most iconic moments during the 10 eras. Moore met Swift through mutual friend Emma Stone who worked with Moore on “La La Land.” Her credits are extensive. Most recently, she put together the exemplary Ryan Gosling performance of “I’m Just Ken” at the Oscars.

Amanda Balen is the dance captain. The blond beauty hails from Ontario, Canada. She is famous among the Lady Gaga fandom for dancing in several of the star’s music videos and being a part of the Roseland Ballroom residency in New York City in 2014. Balen has worked with Katy Perry and Pink. You can find her at 14:18 during “The Man” to the left of Swift.

Tori Evans lights up the stage. In her decade-plus career, the University of Arizona alumnus has been featured in Ricky Martin music video “Qué Rico Fuera”, swam in synchro-formation next to Beyoncé and strutted on “The Masked Singer.” Evans’ resume also includes dancing for Cardi B, Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo and Maroon 5. Her dance teacher of 15 years, Lana Wright, told Morgan Hill Life, “Tori was always that ray of sunshine… I always knew Tori could accomplish her goals, if she really wanted it.” You can catch Evans during “Blank Space.” She hands Swift a glow-up club at 2:13:45.

Audrey Douglass has danced with the devil, in addition to many other television credits. The performer has boogied and waltzed on Netflix’s “Lucifer,” Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” FX’s “American Horror Story: 1984,” Paramount+’s “1923” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Douglass serves up sass as “Shay” in Dua Lipa’s “Physical” work out video. Dancing runs in the family, because Douglass’ older sister, Hannah, was one of the co-captain dancers on Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour. As the “Lover” house burns down, you can see Douglass to the left of Swift at 2:22:52.

Jan Ravnik (pronounced “yawn”) is the smooth dancer who caught the eye of social media with his abs-olutely distracting “Lavender Haze” ladder dance. The Slovenian dancer has worked with Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars, Khalid and Luis Fonsi. Ravnik was awarded the “Best Dancer in Slovenia” and credited as the “Best Trainer/Choreographer” by the Slovenian Olympic committee. When he’s not grooving on the international stage, he goes for long distance bike rides and takes artsy photos. You can see what’s got the internet’s attention at 2:36:46.

Taylor Banks strikes like a viper at 55:48, during “…Ready For It?” Banks was born in New Orleans, grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Los Angeles to shine. The dancer has been moving to the beat since she was 3 and been featured with artists including Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Cher, Ciara, Chris Brown, Jessie J, The Jacksons, Jason Derulo, Dua Lipa, Billie Eillish and Beyoncé. The fitness model has repped brands like Nike, Reebok, Skechers and Under Armour.

Sydney Moss was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. The spunky and fun dancer moved to Los Angeles after high school and has worked with Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Doja Cat, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez. Moss has a beautiful rendition of “You’re Losing Me” with fellow dancer Jan Ravnik. She dresses Swift in her bejeweled blazer during “The Man” at 9:03.

Natalie Lecznar is a former Radio City Rockette. The Chapman University graduate married her college sweetheart. She was on Season 5 of “So You Think You Can Dance.” The vibrant dancer is easy to spot with her fire-red locks. She is known for her performance in the “Folklore” era when she becomes Rebekah Harkness during the “Last Great American Dynasty” at 1:51:41.

Whyley Yoshimura, why don’t you come on over and shake, shake, shake? The dancer notably flips his long hair, still smooth despite the humidity, during “Shake It Off” at 2:17:40. Yoshimura is a native Hawaiian who went to the Kamehameha Schools on Oahu. He started dancing for Janet Jackson at 18 and went on to be her assistant choreographer for the “Unbreakable Tour.” He is an LGBTQI+ advocate for the Rainbow Railroad.

Raphael Thomas is the “Tolerate It” star at 54:02. The Jamaican’s nickname is “The Sandman.” He toured with Mary J. Blige on the “Good Morning Gorgeous” tour, was featured in Rihanna’s “Savage X Fenty Show” on Amazon Prime, danced for Janet Jackson in the 85 West Music Festival and lit up the stage with Beyonce during her “Homecoming” performance at Coachella.

Kevin Scheitzbach polishes up real nice! The “Bejeweled” dancer gets a breakout moment at 2:47:13 strutting some of his best moves. Scheitzbach specializes in jazz funk and street styles of dance. He runs FlowXS, a choreography company, with his equally charismatic and talented brother Michael. The two grew up in Toronto, Canada.

Kameron Saunders switches up his "like ever" phrases for the international shows.

Kameron Saunders is the only dancer with a speaking line that he switches up nightly at the Eras Tour during “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” at 1:26:33. The ebullient dancer also shines during a “Bejeweled” dance solo at 2:48:10. The Missourian was honored in Kansas City when the council dubbed Jan. 25 Kameron Saunders Day of Dance. You can catch him and his fast-footed moves in the ensemble of “The Color Purple” and “Spirited.” Saunders’ brother Khalen is a defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints.

Natalie Peterson is a professional dancer, fitness instructor, dance educator and Amazon influencer. The Chapman University graduate specialized in Latin dance. Before the Eras Tour, she served as the assistant choreographer for Karol G’s “Bichota Tour” and got her Lagree Fitness certification. You can spot her twirling in “Style” on the right of Swift at 2:10:39.

@tamiyaxlewis #duet with @varietymagazine #red so ummm that’s me in front of 80,000 people🤯🤯 the opening weekend of the eras tour in Glendale (Swift City) ERAzona!!! #taylorswiftbackupdancer #taylorswift #theerastourtaylorswift #dancer #red ♬ original sound – Variety

Tamiya Lewis is the crowd pleaser who wheels the “Red” road case onto the stage. During the tour, she opens it to reveal song snippets from “State of Grace,” “Holy Ground,” “Red” and “Everything Has Changed” (depending on the show). That part was cut from the movie, but you still see her bringing the case onstage to unleash hundreds of red balloons at 1:20:12. The 21-year-old is an alumnus of the Velocity Dance Convention, a dance convention and competition that provides classes to dancers across the U.S.

Sam Mcwilliams is the lovable dancer who appears to the right of Swift at 2:09:56. If you don’t blink, you can also catch his famous “Style” flip at 2:10:41. The Oregon native has been dancing for most of his life. Check out a video of him in 2017 dancing to Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too.” In 2021, he was named the Radix senior male core performer, and he almost made the top 12 on Season 17 of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Recently, Mcwilliams showed off his lyrical, limber and tumble talents in a duet dance with fellow dancer Jan Ravnik.

Karen Chuang hands Swift her microphone during “The Man” at 9:26. A few seconds later as she’s poring over a typewriter, Swift takes her paper and chucks it. Chuang is officially a Gleek as one of her first television appearances was as a Vocal Adrenaline dancer in “Another One Bites The Dust.” She also performed in the 2016 “Grease Live!” and Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show. Chuang graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA.

Swift and her crew have 69 shows left to perform on the Eras Tour. She will release her 11th era album “The Tortured Poets Department” on April 19 before heading to Paris to perform on May 9.

By: Bryan West
Originally published at: USA Today

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