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Lani by Camryn Eakes

Lani Yamanaka

Artist, Performer, Educator



Episode 5: Akram Khan Trailer

By Samantha Tan

I'm Lani,
a creative based in Southern California.

I grew up in San Diego, honing my technical skills in Dance while training and competing in Judo - a Japanese martial art form I carry layered in my dancing body, honoring my heritage as a multigenerational Japanese-American woman. I graduated from UC Irvine in 2015 with my BFA in Dance and Choreography.

While finishing my college career, I launched into the professional dance world as an original ensemble member in Pearl by Daniel Ezralow, which premiered at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theatre. I was a Company Dancer with Entity Contemporary Dance, co-founded by Will Johnston and Marissa Osato, for three years before joining ODC Dance Company in San Francisco for another two. In 2018 I joined the cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a multimedia production designed for The Shed NYC, co-created by award-winning director Chen Shi-Zheng and Kung Fu Panda's Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. As Dance Captain, I worked alongside choreographer Akram Khan and assistant choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter to create, manipulate, and through-line the movement choreography and motifs. 


Directly before the world lockdown, I spent five weeks in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Akram Khan Company training 25 local dancers and ultimately performing in "Father: Vision of the Floating World," a piece featured in MOVE, a dance doc-series on Netflix.


During the initial Covid-19 lockdown, I co-created, choreographed, and danced in Blank State, a dance film born from the loss of creative spaces to gather in person. Thus, my collaborator Megumi Iwama and I decided to make our own on-screen. Blank State was selected for screening at Door Kinetic Arts Festival.

You can stay up-to-date with me by following my