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Lani Yamanaka (she/her) is a Dance Artist based in Southern California.


Lani began honing her technical skills in Dance while training and competing in Judo - a Japanese martial art honoring her heritage as a multigenerational Japanese-American woman. 


She continued her artistic pursuits at the University of California, Irvine graduating in 2015 with BFAs in Dance and Choreography. At UCI, she performed works by Saleemah E. Knight, Shaun Boyle, Will Johnston, and graciously took part in Donald McKayle's Etude Ensemble, performing featured roles in his iconic works, I've Known Rivers, Captain, and Even As The River And The Sea Are One

While graduating, Lani began freelancing in Los Angeles. She performed in Pearl, a multimedia production about the life and achievements of Pearl S. Buck by Daniel Ezralow, which premiered at Lincoln Center. Lani was a Company Dancer with Entity Contemporary Dance performing in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Hong Kong, before moving to the Bay Area to join ODC Dance. During and after her time in SF, she has worked with Kate Weare, SF Danceworks, and Kambara+.


In 2018, Lani 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 writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, with songs by Sia, Arca, and The Haxan Cloak, and choreography by Akram Khan. As Dance Captain, she worked alongside choreographer Akram Khan and associate choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter to throughline movement motifs and choreography. Lani is in MOVE, a dance doc-series on Netflix focusing on Akram and featuring her time in Bangladesh teaching local dancers and ultimately performing Father: Vision of the Floating World. Lani has taught AKC repertory for numerous online workshops. 


During the initial Covid-19 lockdown, she co-created, choreographed, and danced in Blank State, a dance film born from the loss of creative spaces to gather in person. Thus, her collaborators, Megumi Iwama, Eric B. Photos, and herself, made their own on-screen. Blank State was selected for screening at Door Kinetic Arts Festival.


Lani is passionate about educating the upcoming generations of movement artists. She has spent over ten years exploring Dance as a medium for communication and connection and aims to deepen artistry and awareness of their craft. In 2022 Lani received her Personal Trainer certification through NASM and continues to work with DancePrehab to educate dancers and movement educators on the importance of injury prevention and wellness.


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Lani is represented by Go 2 Talent Agency in Los Angeles.

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