Usual Suspects dance crew dances through Sola Soul and Torrey Conference

Usual Suspects continues to grow and gain momentum as they defy misconceptions of dance by bringing in diversity and unity to campus.


Haven Luper-Jasso

Usual Suspects dance crew energizes the crowd at Sola Soul.

Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo, Arts and Entertainment Editor

A previously taboo topic at Biola changed how students worship and bring diversity to campus. Kickstarting at Sola Soul during the 2021 Torrey Conference last year, the Usual Suspects dance crew introduced a new perspective on how students can perform in a God-honoring way. 


Emily Propst, director of Usual Suspects and senior communications studies major, explained how she gathered students from many backgrounds and majors to choreograph an opening performance for last year’s Sola Soul. After the original opener dropped out last minute, Propst used her dance background from high school to put together a stellar opening hip hop performance. 

Since the development of Usual Suspects, Propst has implemented various traditions to foster community and maintain focus on their values. According to Propst, the name Usual Suspects refers to a 1990s movie, the premise of which is to avoid judging someone before getting to know them and listening to their stories. With this in mind, their main mission is to encourage diversity and inclusion to Biola despite dance being a taboo topic on campus. 

“Our original crew last year … were all from different sections of campus, they were all different majors, different years. They would have never met and so the idea of our name is kind of like that’s really unsuspecting … but the thing that bonds us is the love of dance, the thing that bonds us is love of Christ,” said Propst. 


After the first Sola Soul performance, Usual Suspects earnestly searched for a way to maintain the dance group despite not having any future performances planned. Fortunately, the admissions department contacted Propst and allowed the dance group to perform at University Day, reviving Usual Suspects. This led them to perform three times at the 2022 Missions Conference, once during the first 2022 Torrey Conference session and again this year at Sola Soul. 

“I wanted to show Biola as a campus that dance is not something that’s inherently sinful and that it can be holy and that it can be good and that it can foster love and connection … and that’s part of our heart and our mission,” said Propst. 

Propst co-directs the group with Andrew Rodriguez, a sophomore psychology major; together, they use their love for dance to choreograph both contemporary and hip hop pieces. For this year’s Torrey Conference, the Spiritual Development department reached out to Usual Suspects to perform alongside a spoken word performance from senior English and commercial music major Evan Dickerson. 

With both the 2022 Sola Soul and 2022 Torrey Conference performances in a single day, Propst explained how the dance crew divided and conquered. Usual Suspects split their attention on both contemporary worship and hip hop pieces — delegating the choreography to three Usual Suspect members: Alex White, a junior education major, Zachary Ramos, a junior kinesiology major and Samantha Dennis, a junior accounting major. In doing so, they were able to exhibit the value of unity amongst diversity with various forms of dance to glorify Christ in a God-honoring way. 

“If we can bring a little bit of that beauty in our differences and still be [unified] in that, to campus for people to see people that look like them and don’t look like them together on stage, I think that’s so important,” Propst said.

Oct. 8, 2022

This article has been updated to reflect that junior accounting major Samantha Dennis was one of the Usual Suspects choreographers.

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