Students in the News

Professional Pathways

It’s summer in Rome and, inspired by the architecture of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a UCI student ties on her pointe shoes and begins dancing in the cobblestone plaza. As if on cue, a street musician emerges from an alleyway playing Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance” on his harmonica. Tourists gather to watch her grand jetés across the Piazza de Santa Maria, in front of the oldest fountain in this ancient city.

“It was a beautiful moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” says the dancer, Tanya Bendis ’14.

She and a handful of classmates spent two weeks that summer collaborating and performing with professional musicians across Rome, in what has become an annual project led by dance professor Lisa Naugle. After graduating from UCI, Bendis went on to dance professionally in the U.S. and now performs at Zagreb City Theater Komedija in Croatia. One reason she considered taking a job abroad, she says, is because of her experience and connections made...

UCI Drama Students Receive Outstanding Crew Member Award

UCI Drama students, Chloe Cuberly and Sawyer Maier were recently awarded the Outstanding 101 Crew Member award of the Year for completing exceptional work while participating in UCI’s Drama 101 program.  The Drama 101 program allows dance and drama students to learn about the inner workings of performing arts productions, specifically applying skills in stage management and shop --- costuming, lighting, sound, and scenic elements.  This program enlightens students about all elements of developing a main stage performance at UCI and allows them to get hands-on experience in the field. Congratulations to Chloe and Sawyer on further developing and showing a superb application of your skills as a crew member!

Meet the first Filipina winner of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

UCI Dance student Hannahlei Cabanilla’s audition piece alone got the “So You Think You Can Dance” judges on their feet to welcome her with a golden ticket to the academy, including Fil-Am celebrity judge Vanessa Hudgens.

Her victory is one for the books.

Hannahlei is the first Filipino-American to win the $250,000 prize as the grand winner of this season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“Every step of the journey is very humbling, and it’s so amazing that I’ve had an impact on so many people’s lives, and I’m representing dancers, Filipinos, just everyone’s that is supporting me.”

Her message for those who dream of becoming the next dance show winner is to put in the work.

“I just wanna inspire them and show that anyone could do this if you just put in the effort and time and work, because I was one of those little girls looking up to all the past winners, knowing that I wanted to be on this show…and now I’m in the winner’s shoes.


Hannahlei Cabanilla wins ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Hannahlei Cabanilla is America’s favorite dancer.

During the Season 15 finale of the Fox series “So You Think You Can Dance,” the 18-year-old Anaheim Hills native was named the winner.

“It was the best moment of my life,” she said facing a line of reporters following the show on Monday, Sept. 10.

Cabanilla is Orange County’s second-consecutive winner. She joked “there’s something in the water down in Orange County, so watch out.”



The ‘So You Think You Can Dance Winner’ is …

After weeks of grueling auditions and dazzling performances, Season 15 of “So You Think You Can Dance” finally crowned a winner Monday night during a jam-packed two-hour finale on Fox.

And it was Hannahlei Cabanilla, an 18-year-old contemporary dancer from Anaheim Hills, Ca., who captured top honors. She edged out Jensen Arnold, a 20-year-old Latin ballroom specialist from Provo, Utah.


UCI Dance Major Hannahlei Cabanilla on "So You Think You Can Dance"

Orange County dancer Hannahlei Cabanilla has a signature move that she calls an L-turn.

If you’ve caught Season 15 of the Fox series “So You Think You Can Dance” so far, then you’ve seen Cabanilla incorporate the move in her routine.

“My leg is behind my head while I’m turning on one foot,” she said, describing the L-turn that she and her longtime instructor at the Orange County Performing Arts Academy in Anaheim came up with nearly a decade ago. “I haven’t seen anyone else do that trick. It’s just my thing.”

Although it helped place her among the Top 10 for women, Cabanilla won’t be performing her signature “trick” Monday, July 23. The 18-year-old Anaheim Hills native majoring in dance at UC Irvine was paired with a “So You Think You Can Dance” all-star to learn a routine outside of her comfort zone.

“So yeah,” she said. “Obviously, it’s not going to be contemporary.”

Born and raised in Anaheim Hills as the youngest of two girls, Cabanilla...

Outstanding 101 Crew Member Award for 2018

The UCI Drama Stage Management program awarded Kyle Causey and Hannah Lafferty the Outstanding 101 Crew Member Awards for 2018.  Kyle is a first-year who has a strong interest in sound design. Hannah is a 3rd-year transfer student interested in all things drama and has done amazing work on 101 costume crew for the Department of Drama productions this year.

Prof. Don Hill, Acting Chair and Head of Stage Management, presented the students with the awards before the Saturday matinee performance of American Idiot in the Claire Trevor Theatre on June 9.

FADA (Film-Arts-Drama Alliance) club produces "The Greatest Show at UCI"


THE SHOWMEN (In Order of Appearance)
Trystan Colburn
Tina Pham
Kenai Gonzales

Emily Johnson-Frantz (Standing in for Olivia Pech)

Alyssa Corella
Anna Reiser
Cayla Flagg
Hannah Lafferty
Lilla Lavanakul
Makeila Lee

Abby Martinez
Alyssa Corella
Anna Reiser
Cayla Flagg
Daphnie Rivera
Elijah Punzal
Emily Johnson
Eunice S. Martinez
Hannah Lafferty
Hannah Limon
Junna Saito
Kirsten Lange
Lia Prindle
Lilla Lavanakul
Lydia Nyingi
Makeila Lee
Raymond King
Sarajane Bradford
Tiffany Hui
Trystan Colburn
Xinyuan Ye

Adrian Snuffer
Alec Risley
Ali Rostami
Alyssa Marie...

Dance Students participate in master classs at SCFTA with Alvin Ailey

Six Dance students were selected to participate in a master class at SCFTA with Alvin Ailey.

Enjoying the Music of UCI Jazz

The UCI Jazz Small Groups concert kicked off Wednesday night with cheers and shouts from an enthusiastic crowd of jazz fans and students alike. The concert, which featured three combo groups of students led by faculty members, was held in the packed Winifred Smith Hall and displayed the immense talent of the jazz students of the UCI Music Department. Student Gabe Mallari, who played both the electric bass and upright bass within the groups, has only been playing the latter for about 10 weeks, yet was amazing at both. He unleashed several incredible electric bass solos, all while dancing and bobbing his head, evoking applause and cheers  each time. “There is no feeling that can come close to comparing to how I feel performing,” Mallari said. “There is nothing else on my mind except the music in front of me. It’s an intense rush of focus that literally blocks any thoughts from floating into my head. Because of that, whenever I perform, I’m not worrying or stressing about anything; as...