Lani Yamanaka

Instructor • Rotating Faculty Member

  • BFA Dance Performance and Choreography, UC Irvine

Lani Yamanaka is a San Diego native. As a young dancer, her training focused on versatility and discipline. She competed in Dance at Carlsbad Dance Centre and Judo under her father and sensei at San Shi Judo Club and is eternally grateful for the layered movement knowledge and heritage connection as a multigenerational Japanese-American woman.

While finishing her college career, she launched into the professional dance world as an original ensemble member in PEARL, a multimedia production based on the life and contributions of Pearl S. Buck, directed and choreographed by Daniel Ezralow. Lani danced professionally with Entity Contemporary Dance, founded by Will Johnston and Marissa Osato, for three years before joining ODC/Dance in San Francisco for another two. In 2019 she was Dance Captain for Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, an off-broadway production co-conceived by Chen Shi-Zheng and Kung Fu Panda writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger for The Shed NYC. She worked closely with choreographer Akram Khan and assistant choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter to create, manipulate, and through-line movement and motifs within the evening-length show.

Currently, Lani is an artist and educator with Akram Khan Company and is signed with Go 2 Talent Agency. She is a featured dancer in the Netflix doc-series MOVE, highlighting her time with AKC in Dhaka, Bangladesh, directly before the world locking down. In 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Lani co-created, directed, and danced in Blank State, a dance film born from the loss of creative spaces to gather in person. Thus, collaborators Lani Yamanaka and Megumi Iwama made their own on-screen. Blank State was selected for screening at Door Kinetic Arts Festival.

Lani has taught dance for over ten years, exploring this medium of human communication and connection, and aims to deepen the artistry and education of upcoming generations. She has taught master classes and workshops worldwide (Asia, Europe, US, Bangladesh), in academic institutions, and now virtually due to COVID. She considers it a great honor to be in these spaces.

Lani is one of the Rotating Faculty members for Jazz/Contemporary and Ballet Competing Blocks.

Open Company Classes

Class Name Day Of Week Time Age Teacher
Open Co. Combo CONT Thursday 7:30 pm—8:30 pm Open Lani
Class Name Day Of Week Time Age Teacher