Under director Susan Alexander, the Westmont College dance program has blossomed into an inventive, thoughtful, spirited troupe that works well together in a variety of idioms. Saturday’s fall concert performance featured 11 distinctive pieces set to music ranging from the 17th-century Scottish ballad “Joy to the Person of My Love” to the contemporary pop and hip-hop of Destiny’s Child, Andra Day, and even some 2 Chainz.
Alexander contributed three substantial works, each in a different genre. Her “Party of One,” a solo set on dancer Kyndal Vogt, opened the hour-long concert, and “Slant” — another Alexander composition — gave Martha Bartchy, Claire Masterson, Abigail Pryor, Robyn Takeshita, and Vogt a chance to show what they can do in a more abstract and lyrical vein. The piece “360°” brought back Pryon, Takeshita, and Vogt to the stirring sounds of the USC Drum Corps.
Two sisters contributed a pair of works each. Westmont student Sarah Sutherland set “Rise” on herself and her sister, alum Bethany Sutherland, and it was a highlight of the program. Bethany Sutherland’s “Tribal Instinct,” a hip-hop quintet, took the penultimate spot and provided a lead-in to the finale, “You & Me,” which featured the members of N’STEP, Westmont’s hip-hop dance club.
In addition to strong individual contributions by choreographers Melanie Bales and Brenna Humphrey, the concert presented two provocative pieces by Mack Ellis, who danced the first one, “Mind & Body,” alongside partner Miranda Wittrock, and also starred in his second work, an elaborate ensemble composition called “Way Down.” The quality of the performances was reflected in the warm response the program received and in the delighted faces of the dancers as they returned to the stage to take their bows.