American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

American Contemporary Ballet’s Homecoming Invites You Out the Bleachers in an immersive Ballet

“I have regrets.” A man in a mismatched suit and a striped tie announces to bleachers full of students. But his statement is only answered by the squeak of the left wheel on the lunch lady’s cart and the smell of peanut butter and jelly in the air. “Close your eyes and imagine you’re twenty, you’re thirty, maybe you’re even forty. What will you regret?” A student in the bleachers yells out something and the crowd laughs. But our principal continues. “I met an angel once. She asked me to dance… but… but I said no.” He shuffles his feet. And I wonder if an angel asks me to dance at Homecoming tonight, will I have the courage to say yes.

Homecoming by the American Contemporary Ballet follows February’s Astaire Dances by recreating the John Hughes dream, complete with catty cheerleaders, a practiced drill team, an ever-growing marching band, a Homecoming King and Queen, and perhaps, an urban legend of something darker that exists once the dance is over. Following similar styling as previous American Contemporary Ballet experiences, Homecoming is not a dance you stay in the bleachers for—participants will have time before and after the experience to engage with classmates and join the dance themself. It’s the closest you’ll get to reliving your high-school experience, proving frightening for some, cathartic for others, and blissfully nostalgic for the rest.


American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

Photography by Mary Joyce



Homecoming begins on the 28th floor of a secret location in downtown Los Angeles. While the high-rise may feel corporate, an office door labeled Gymnasium invites guests to step through into another world—and it truly feels like you’ve been transported to the past. Bright lights, a dance floor, and numerous trophies for your classmates are scattered across the space. Janitorial staff with long hair and Walkman stereos push brooms across the floor. Even a boombox blasts out 80’s hits to the entire gymnasium.

Some guests found their seat in the bleachers, but I found the drink table. The lunch lady, likely tired of her long hours and little appreciation, had started spiking the Capri Suns with some of the Vodka she snuck between shifts, and trust me, it made the assembly that much better. She also offers some un-spiked drinks for those not wanting to walk on the wild side.

But no matter how cool I pretended to be, my place on the social hierarchy was reinforced when I tried to talk to the most popular girls in school: the cheerleaders. Huddled together in their own cliques, these girls were perfectly done up, from their hair to their makeup to their perfectly pressed white skirts. “Are you excited for homecoming?” I ask Hannah. “Aren’t you a transfer student? I think I saw you crying in the back of Algebra?” she says, not even looking at me. “Yeah… yeah, that was me.” I respond—and then she’s quickly pulled away by caring friends, afraid that if she’s seen talking to me, it may impact her chances as Homecoming Queen.

The pre-shows for American Contemporary Ballet Company’s experiences are always transportative, immersive, and extremely memorable. It offers a chance for audiences to engage with the ballerinas as characters in the world Lincoln Jones has created, serving as an introduction to the world and the people who inhabit it. The costume design by Ruoxuan Li and Yasamin Sarabipour is exceptional, creating a look for the girls that is iconic yet surreal, as if they stepped out of dream. And one of my favorite design choices was the trophies, which actually have the dancer’s names on them and witty award titles like “Most Likely to be Most Improved” and “Excellence in Insouciance”. The wit here is unmatched.


American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

Photography by Mary Joyce


Assembly Time

Homecoming begins with one of the most impressively choreographed segments I’ve seen from the American Contemporary Ballet. Always so proud of a talented band, Homecoming proves that a band is not always needed—the talent of their cast is enough. The cheerleaders erupt into a series of claps, snaps, and stomps, and cascade into a dance off between two girls at a time. Each showcases their own unique style, focusing more on the rhythm, capturing moments of youthful nostalgia, such as when Sarah and Kristin mime a game of patty-cake. But Madeline Houk showcases her status as Queen Bee as she dances unchallenged, showing kicks and movements that would make any cheerleader proud.

Like Astaire Dances, a scripted section proceeds the first act, providing laughs and reflection as Janice, the school administrator (Ariana Raygoza) starts an assembly (ugh!) in the auditorium, and our principal Mr. Lessman waxes on about his past regrets. From the clothes to the oversized and far too heavy microphone stand, the set feels straight out of a John Hughes comedy.

Despite what the first section showed, American Contemporary Ballet is known for their bands, and Homecoming delivers. A four-person percussion band emerges (Gregg Niemi, Alexis Nguyen, Dorothy Micklea, and Hudson Wirkus)—heralded by their echoes reverberating down the long hall of the auditorium. They enter, in 80’s band regalia, and play as the drill team showcases a performance of extraordinary skill to the audience.

This next sequence has sixteen dancers on the floor, marching to the beat of an ever-expanding band or percussions and trombones (Vikram Devesthali, Reuben Molina, Nathan Fulmizi, and Ethan Holmes). While four ballerinas emerge at a time, the remaining 12 are always moving, marching—and their fortitude is impressive. The sound of their breath echoes off the auditorium walls, as the ballerinas showcase their incredible talent. Hannah Barr, Brittany Yevoli, Madeline Houk, and Paige Wilkey are as impressive as always, never missing a beat, marching up and down the rows. While this feels more like a team experience than previous performances, all ballerinas moved in harmony, showcasing one of the more detailed performances in ACB history.


American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

Photography by Mary Joyce



Homecoming does not end when the assembly concludes. No, why would it? It’s called Homecoming, not Assembly. This section is the most immersive and engaging to the audience. Delivering on the promise: “you will not remain in the bleachers,” the homecoming court steps out one by one, extending a hand to the men and women of the audience, inviting them to step on stage for their first slow dance. For those new to immersive theater experiences, this moment of breaking the fourth wall must be astounding and carry a specific personalization that any other ballet couldn’t offer. For those immersive veterans, it feels exciting and nostalgic, a return to experiences that offered one-on-one moments like this pre-pandemic.

Ariana Raygoza removes her costume as Janice, and dons a rockers attire, showcasing her vocal talents as lead of The CVLT, your band for the evening. Covering your favorite 80’s classics, Josh Turner excels on electric guitar, Morgan Jones (a favorite of prior ACB experiences) dazzles on keyboard, Scott Bramer slays on acoustic guitar, and Greg Niemi slams on drums. The CVLT provide a rockin’ soundtrack for the entire cast and audience to dance their night away.

But—as with any John Hughes film, it can’t end with the Homecoming King and Queen having a happily ever after dance, now can it? Remember that urban legend? The mysterious stag, the school mascot, that is only whispered about? Well, I hear that on certain nights, when the moon shines just right onto the dance floor, you can see the antlers of the Stag as she floats across the dance floor, hovering mere inches above the fog and balloons covering the dance floor. Beware, friends, the image of a Stag may haunt your mind far after you’ve left Homecoming.

But hey, if you survive your encounter with the Stag, do make it over to the lunch lady. She has a fruit punch for sale (dammit, someone spiked that too!), and there’s a perfect ACB Homecoming backdrop for all your silliest Prom photos. If you’re feeling brave, you may even be able to get a picture with the Homecoming King or Queen.


American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

Photography by Mary Joyce


Drinks, Sandwiches, and Notebooks

One of my favorite aspects of American Contemporary Ballet is the addition of mid-experience extras. While The Nutcracker offers sweet treats during its dances, Astaire Dances and Homecoming both offer alcoholic offerings during the pre-, post-, and mid-show experience. While none are strong enough to elicit drunken behavior, the addition of these feels diegetic, as the drinks are served in either a Capri Sun (with a cleverly hidden hole), a jelly shot in your sack lunch, or in a spiked punch.

Further, these drinks and snacks provide an opportunity to further immerse audiences into their world and lower their inhibitions for dancing later. For those a bit more self-conscious (especially when it comes to rhythm and dance), these are so appreciated and just serve to make the night more enjoyable.

Beyond the drinks, the mid-entertainment sack lunch also provides a sandwich. I loved this so much. It’s nothing fancy, a crunch peanut butter and jelly sandwich on soft bread—but the taste, the smell, it’s enough to bring you back to your teenage years. The multisensory aspect of this experience is immersive theater at its finest, and I love its ability to make me feel like a teenager again.

Finally, kudos to the art designer of the program. American Contemporary Ballet always has fantastic programs (Astaire Dances gave us a newspaper with real in-world ads), but Homecoming gives us a binder full of stickers, folded notes, and doodles in all the margins. Something like this isn’t meant to just be seen during the show, but it serves as a take-home memento, a reminder of the experience, that can be appreciated later as all the notes are read. The ballerinas all wrote handwritten notes in the binder, vulnerable conversations between them as they discuss fictious issues that feel real, as they prepare for Homecoming.

American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA



American Contemporary Ballet’s Homecoming is a testament to the insane choreography and technical prowess of the ballerinas. It’s an experience that pulls the audience from the bleachers, inviting them onto the stag for an 80’s dance, complete with punch and photo opportunities. The characters are fitting, feeling exceptionally in-universe, and the costumes feel both realistic and dream-like all at the same time. It’s a perfect date night, and great for those looking for a modern ballet experience. Do yourself a favor, and, when the American Contemporary Ballet asks you for a dance, have the courage to take their hand and say yes.


American Contemporary Ballet - Homecoming 2023 - Performance Theater - Los Angeles CA

Photography by Mary Joyce


For more information on American Contemporary Ballet or Homecoming, check out their Facebook, Instagram and webpage. For information about similar events, check out our Event Calendar.


Haunting is a resource for immersive theater and horror fans in Los Angeles and across the world, promoting art and community. Want to help us reach even more people, and get some cool perks and experiences? For as little as $1 a month, you can join our Patreon and help us keep bringing content to life.

If you like the above article and want to find more like it, make sure to join our community. If Facebook is your favorite, follow us there and become a part of our groups for Immersive Horror fans and/or Immersive creators. We’re active on Instagram, posting evocative imagery and informative stories to promote our reviews and recollections; follow us there. You can even find us on twitter; click here to follow. And subscribe to our event calendar to get emails for all or specific events (look for the link right under the calendar)! Finally, we have a newsletter that comes out once a week; click here to sign up.

About The Author

Taylor Winters
Taylor has loved immersive theater since his first experience at ALONE in 2013. Since then, he has written, produced, & directed immersive theater, consulted for numerous immersive companies, acted in others, and attended even more. He has his PhD in Bioengineering, an MBA in Organization Leadership, and currently works fixing broken hearts.

No Comments

Share your Haunting words...

Contact us : [email protected]
© Haunting 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Immersive Theater Intensity Scale Haunting Glowing A - Immersive Theater - Extreme Haunts - Horror Experiences
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On InstagramVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed

Expand your world
Become immersed in the artistic and evocative narratives of Immersive Theater

Check out our sister site:

Immersed Logo - Green
Generic filters
Company Hub
Events / Experiences | [email protected]