2 Dance Editors Dissect Taylor Swift's Fabulous Reputation Tour
Two lifelong Swifties walk into the MetLife Stadium and... There's no punchline. Just this, an obsessive analysis of THE BEST TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT TOUR OF ALL TIME. (Imma let you finish, 1989 Tour.)
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Allow us—Katherine Beard and Helen Rolfe, both assistant editors here at Dance Spirit—to explain. We saw the Reputation Tour at the MetLife Stadium. Now we're applying our world-renowned expertise as OG Taylor Swift loyalists to the following, a HIGHLY scientific and COMPLETELY objective review of the show. Are you "...Ready for It?"
Katherine Beard: Charli XCX kicked off the concert with her epic 2014 hit "Boom Clap." The pop anthem definitely gave some of the latecomers a little extra pep in their step as they scrambled to find their seats. Though Charli's set didn't have a lot of dance action onstage, it definitely got the crowd movin' and groovin' and "Dancing With Our Hands Tied"—or, in our case, dancing with our hands full of concession-stand chow. 🍦🍪🍿🍕🌭🍭
Helen Rolfe: #Bless. (The MetLife Stadium has some excellent lo mein, y'all. Get on it.) The choreographic action started to ramp up when Camila Cabello took the stage with a pair of FIERCE female dancers and a quartet of often-shirtless men. I don't know about you, Katherine, but my heart is in Havana now, too. *swoons*
KB: Haha. After the amount of rain we endured at the concert, my head, shoulders, knees, and toes wished they were in Havana too or anywhere with a little less precipitation. But Tay is the queen of rain references, so the show became all the more magical when the "rain came pouring down" during the first appearance of Queen Tay herself. Her grand entrance was fierce and dramatic, with the stage opening up to reveal the regal, hooded silhouette of the pop icon emerging from the fog.
HR: On previous tours and in the videos for previous albums, Swift has leaned into the adorkable dance moves that come naturally to her willowy frame. (High five, my sister in the Nearly Six Feet Tall Club!) Like some other lanky women and girls I know, she'd tend to collapse the length of her limbs in a way that reinforced her PR line: "Look how charmingly awkward I am! I promise I don't really believe what they say about me being an astoundingly glamorous global superstar." But just look at this excerpt from "I Did Something Bad." No apologizing via body language here! Swift is owning the aggressive choreography like the grown-up pop star she is. You grow, girl.
KB: I think you're right, Helen. Even in this clip of "Blank Space," Taylor is the only one onstage and still manages to captivate with a strut that says, "This is me. Take it or leave it." It's a great reminder that something as simple as a walk or pose can hold such power and set the tone for the performance.
HR: Speaking of setting the tone, I was really impressed with the stage treatment of "Look What You Made Me Do." With a literal mini tilted stage as their centerpiece and jungle gym, the dancers really carried this number, with seemingly wild (but actually tightly controlled) thrashing and the most dramatic body rolls I have ever seen in my life. Oh yeah, and there was a gigantic inflatable snake. Which worked much better than you'd think.
KB: "Shake It Off" was the the dance party to end all dance parties. Charli and Camila joined Taylor, turning one of Swift's danciest songs into a full-on girl-power anthem. The neon costuming and breezy performance were reminiscent of the carefree Taylor of yesteryear, and left the audience reassured that the "Old Taylor" isn't completely dead.
HR: We need to talk about "Dress," which took a TOTALLY unexpected turn thanks to a tribute that neither of us ever saw coming—a shout-out to *~dance history~*! The video that accompanied Swift's solo featured a female dancer in an uber-voluminous white dress, swirling and dipping as colorful lights cast mysterious shadows and created fantastical shapes. We grew increasingly excited as we realized this was a nod to modern-dance pioneer Loie Fuller! Our hopes were confirmed when, at the end of the song, the message below appeared briefly on the massive video screens. Brava, Taylor, for shining a spotlight (literally!) on a hugely important figure in dance who's sadly all too often forgotten these days.
KB: And then we were on to my personal favorite number of the night: a new mashup that made "Bad Blood" the perfect segue into one of her original breakup hits, "Should've Said No." Everything about this section screamed revenge. But the coolest part was watching the backup dancers use the stage scaffolding to perform aerial stunts. That really showcased their versatility. One minute they were on the floor nailing seriously intricate choreo; the next they were taking things up a notch (literally) with gravity-defying tricks. #respect
HR: The term "backup dancers" unfortunately still carries some negative connotations. So, as dancers ourselves, we were thrilled that TSwift made a point of acknowledging the hardworking performers who share these stadium stages with her. During "Gorgeous," she introduced each dancer and background vocalist by name, giving every one of the performers a moment to wow the crowd with their own power move. Yay!
KB: While I wasn't psyched about Taylor ending her tour with "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things," the dancing in this piece was some of the best of the night. While details in choreography are important, when you're in a packed stadium of 82,000 it's important to remember that some people aren't going to be able to see some of the more intricate details of the dance. I loved this piece because the choreo acknowledged the big picture as much as the details.
HR: I'm totally with you on feeling hesitant about the show ending with this song, which (as basically the entire Internet has pointed out) calls out the Kimye drama in a way that sounds a bit self-serving. But as you said, visually the number completely worked.
More than anything, this tour has gotten me so excited to see what TS's next creative move might be—and what kind of choreo it will require! I think we both walked away Saturday night with the conclusion that this was the danciest tour yet for her. She's abandoning her "America's Sweetheart" reputation and stepping into her own as a mature musician, surrounded by her slayingest squad of dancers yet.