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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

7 Dancers Who Played Clara In Radio City's 'Christmas Spectacular'

Updated: Mar 8, 2020

Each holiday season, several talented dancers get the opportunity to play Clara in The Nutcracker suite segment in the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes. Starring in a major holiday show with The Rockettes on the famed stage is a big deal and the job carries a huge responsibility for the young dancer.

The role is a demanding one. It requires the girls be between 4'6"-4'10" because of the choreography. The finger turns with a dancing bear requires Clara to be on the shorter side so she doesn't kick her co-star in the middle of the fouetté turn.

There is no Marley floor because the stage is separated into four sections that can be raised and lowered throughout the show. That wooden floor can make it slippery in pointe shoes, so rubber is added to the tips of their pointe shoes.

In addition to the stage hazards, Clara has to entertain 5,960 audience members each show, perform up to three shows a day, sometimes start their final show at 10:30 p.m. and work six days a week through the holiday season. Whew!

It's no surprise to find out that many of the Claras have gone on to great success in the dance industry. The Christmas Spectacular was a great training ground for the rest of their professional careers.

Take a look at this list, you probably know a name or two...

Kayla Mak:

This Season 3 World of Dance contestant was also a Clara! Kayla starred in the 2014 Christmas Spectacular in New York City at the age of 11. She returned to the role in 2015.

"The most fun part of the show is getting to meet all the amazing people and all the performers and getting to see the famous Rockettes," Mak said to USA Today in 2014. "It's just been such an honor to be dancing with them and to be in the same room as them."

Elliana Walmsley:

The Dance Moms and Dancing with the Stars: Juniors pro is currently starring in the 2019 production in New York City. She got the part earlier this year after auditioning two other times. She was too tiny in prior years, but she's wanted the role for a long time.

She told To The Pointe in November 2018, "I've made it to the final cut every single time I've auditioned. I'm so close! Radio City, if you're watching this...'Hi!' "

Tiler Peck: The New York City Ballet principal dancer started working professionally at a young age. She was Clara at the age of nine in the Christmas Spectacular, but she didn't do the production in New York. From 1994-2003 and revived in 2007, the show had a touring production. Tiler performed on the California tour in 1998.

Alexia Meyer:

The Season 12 So You Think You Can Dance contestant was also a Clara in the Nashville production back in 2008 at the age of 13.

She reminisced about her time with the show on To The Pointe in November 2017, "That was a dream come true. I auditioned for that while I was at a nationals [dance competition] in New York City and I was able to play the role of Clara in Nashville. A Tennessee Christmas is magical in and of itself. The best part about the Nashville show is that the role of Clara gets to play other parts throughout the show. I didn't just play Clara, I was the little girl in the Christmas scene and I was in the "Carol of the Bells" scene and I was in the Nativity scene."

Amy & Lauren Yakima:

Talent runs in the family when it comes to the Yakima dancers. Season 10 co-winner of So You Can Dance, Amy Yakima, played the role for four years — three years in Detroit and her final year in New York City. Her baby sister, Lauren, from Season 3 of World of Dance, followed in her footsteps years later and performed the role in Nashville.

Juliet Doherty:

The High Strung: Free Dance star toured in the Seattle/Pittsburgh and Florida/Texas shows in 2009 and 2010. She played her final year as Clara in the New York City version at the age of 14.

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