Lani Yamanaka is a fourth-generation Japanese American multi-hyphenate artist based in California. Her career spans across contemporary dance, martial arts, television, film and more. Lani started her training in Judo and Dance and graduated from UC Irvine with Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Dance Performance and Choreography. At UCI, she took part in Donald McKayle's Etude Ensemble, performing featured roles in his works, I've Known Rivers, Captain, and Even As The River And The Sea Are One.
As a dance artist and collaborator, she has worked professionally with Akram Khan Company, Daniel Ezralow, Entity Contemporary Dance, ODC Dance, SF Danceworks, Kambara+, Paris By Night, and The Shed NYC. Lani has performed works by Donald McKayle, Edward Clug, Yin Yue, Bryan Arias, Alba Castillo, Kate Weare, Marissa Osato, Will Johnston, Saleemah E. Knight, Shaun Boyle, Kat Burns, and Laura O'Malley. Lani was in the original ensemble of PEARL, a multimedia production by Daniel Ezralow which premiered at the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. She was a company member with Entity Contemporary Dance for three years before moving to San Francisco to join with ODC Dance for two seasons. In 2018 she was Dance Captain for the Off-Broadway show DRAGON SPRING PHOENIX RISE, the inaugural production of The Shed NYC at Hudson Yards. As Dance Captain, she worked alongside choreographer Akram Khan and associate choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter to through-line movement motifs, martial arts, and dance choreography. Lani is featured in MOVE, a Netflix documentary series following her time in Bangladesh with AKC before the Covid-19 lockdown.
Beyond performing, Lani is passionate about sharing space with other creatives and educating the upcoming generations of movement artists. She has taught nationally and internationally at USC Kaufman School of Dance, University of Chicago Dance, Millennium Dance OC, Shift Dance Hong Kong and the AKC Dhaka Training Program, among many others. Lani is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and works with DancePrehab to educate artists on injury prevention and wellness. In her free time, she is working towards her next black belt degree in Judo.