Senior Spotlight : Maya Pleninger



By Jess Cowle of Touchstone

Out of her busy schedule, I was able sit down with campus cutie, Maya Pleninger and chat about Manhattanville and her experiences. All the way from Rochester, New York; the Senior Dance and Theater Major and Business Management Minor is always on the run, whether she is on her way from class to rehearsal; she always finds time to have fun.

Manhattanville was one of Pleninger’s top choices, “I chose Manhattanville because of the location and the fact that it is a liberal arts college. I knew that I wanted to be a dance and theater major, but also knew that I did not want to go to a conservatory school because I would not have the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes other than dance based classes.” She explained how she was able to have her education well rounded; and got to take many classes that were outside of the Dance and Theater department. She also likes the proximity to New York City because she is easily able to travel down for Dance auditions and various internship opportunities. With Manhattanville being a liberal arts school, I get to take classes both in my major and out of my major which allows me to get a more well-rounded education. Being close to NYC is great for auditions and other various dance opportunities. 

Dance was always a passion of Pleninger’s and she hopes to continue her passion after college. “I would like to be a professional dancer,” she laughed, “but I chose my minor because having a business background will hopefully be helpful further down the line if I decide to eventually form my own company.”

Pleninger is involved with numerous clubs on campus including Captain of Manhattanville’s Dance Troupe. She also regularly performs for the DTH department and works in Admissions and the Human Resources offices in the Castle.

Out of all the performances that she has been in during her four years at Manhattanville, her favorite by far was working with professor Shawn Bible in his performance project class. This was one of her favorite performances so far. “We worked all semester on creating a 15-minute dance piece that was featured in the Fall Dance Concert, and now have the opportunity to perform this piece again at a professional show in New York City hosted by his company, shawntbibbledanceco.” It was very exciting that she was able to work with professional dancers in such an intimate setting.

When she is not dancing, Pleninger interns for the Amalgamate Dance Company, which is a dance company based in NYC. “I get the opportunity to go to all company events, take classes, and network with other professional dancers and companies.” The internship is mostly a remote internship, so she does a lot of her work from school. But she still travels into the city to help with shows and events when needed. Pleninger does the technical side of the shows, where she gains explained that she learned many different aspects of performing.

Pleninger loves contemporary dance because it combines both modern and ballet technique. She loves the fact that dancers can add their own personal style and emotions, which allows them to express themselves. For her senior thesis, she plans on creating a contemporary dance in the spring semester.

In the Spring, Pleninger plans on doing a senior thesis; which is about contrasting movement and working with the element of surprise. Though it is still in the works, she is trying to focus on how putting different movements together on stage at the same time can catch an audience members eye and attention in a different way. She explained that; “my goal is to keep people interested and wanting to see more. The story line that each audience member will see will be specific to their opinion, because I am not making my dance based on a story line. I look forward to seeing everyone’s reactions!” We are all excited to see what she puts on the stage.

After graduation, Pleninger hopes to move on to perform professionally as a dancer or an aerial artist. “I am open to different options and companies, so the audition process will really be a crucial part of deciding what I do after graduation,” she said. I hope to eventually form my own company, combining dance and aerial arts. 


Here are some of Maya’s Favorite things!!


Ice cream: birthday cake

This week she is listening to: Kygo

Favorite things to shop for: shoes and clothes

Favorite pet: Her dog Lulu

Favorite sport: Dancing  & aerial arts



All Photos by Tara Murphy