Lani’s bio

Lani Weissbach Biography


Lani Weissbach was born and raised in Hawaii, and although she studied traditional Western dance forms from a very early age, Lani was always drawn to the authentic, organic and transformational experience of the moving body. Since 1989, Lani has worked as a dancer, teacher and choreographer of eastern and western dance forms and has taught yoga since 1997. Her ongoing investigation of butoh, an avant-garde dance form that originated in post WWII Japan, has deeply informed her work as a teacher and movement artist for over 25 years.

Lani’s formal training includes a B.A. in dance from the University of Hawaii, an M.F.A. in dance from Arizona State University, yoga teaching certification from the Integral Yoga Institute, and certification in Shin Somatics through the Eastwest Somatics Institute for Yoga, Dance and Movement Studies. Lani has directed and produced numerous concerts of original choreography since 1993, creating many cross-disciplinary alliances with writers, musicians, actors and visual artists. She has performed with professional companies both nationally and abroad and was a principal dancer in Honolulu’s first butoh company Iona Pear Dance Theater from 1990-1993. Lani has worked with esteemed teachers of contemporary dance, yoga and somatics in Japan, Mexico, Germany, Canada and throughout North America. Her work has been commissioned for events in Pennsylvania, Arizona, New York, Chicago and Edinburgh, Scotland, and she has received several grants from the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts for performances and workshops in and around the Erie area. Lani has served as an adjunct/full time instructor and guest artist for over 40 colleges and universities, public schools and private institutions throughout the U.S. since 1993.

Since moving to Erie in 1998, Lani has been strongly committed to introducing somatic movement practices to communities throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. She has served on the faculties of several colleges and universities in the region, including Allegheny College, Mercyhurst University and Slippery Rock University and has been a guest artist at Point Park University, SUNY Fredonia, The University of Rochester, Alfred University and Gannon University. She is founder and artistic director of Shen & Bones Performance Group based in Erie, Pennsylvania and has presented dozens of performances and conducted residencies in a variety of formats throughout Western Pennsylvania, New York, Chicago and North Carolina. The company was selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPAT) roster in 2007. Lani is a Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME) with the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) and is a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. She is a featured artist in “Butoh: Metamorphic Dance and Global Alchemy” by Sondra Fraleigh (University of Pittsburgh Press 2010). Lani currently teaches somatic movement classes at Allegheny College, Girl on Fire Movement Studio, and the Village of Healing and Wellness in Erie, PA.