Clara Ruf Maldonado was born and raised in New York City. She grew up performing in experimental community theater in her neighborhood of the Lower East Side, taking part in productions known for their radical political nature. She studied on scholarship at the School of American Ballet for 11 years, where she was a 2015 Mae L. Wien Award recipient.
Clara joined the New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 2015 before joining Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2018
where she currently dances.