Clara Ruf Maldonado is from New York, New York. She studied on scholarship at the School of American Ballet, where she was a 2015 Mae L. Wien Award recipient, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She attended summer courses at Ballet Academy East, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Chautauqua Institution, Houston Ballet Academy, Miami City Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Clara was an apprentice with New York City Ballet before joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2018. She was promoted to corps de ballet later that year, and became a soloist in 2023.