Manelich was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina by a family of artists. He was first introduced to modern dance and to Pilobolus as a student at the American Dance Festival, in 1998. That fall, he enrolled North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated in 2000. He went on to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts on full scholarship, and graduated with a BFA, in 2003. Since joining the company thereafter, Manelich has performed and taught in forty-six states and ten countries around the world.