New York City Ballet Dancer Christina Clark Is Celebrating Every Stage

February 22, 2024

When Christina Clark saw her first Nutcracker performance at age 5, she didn’t immediately aspire to the roles of Sugarplum Fairy or Dewdrop—instead, she was fixated on the dozens of children in the cast. “I was determined to become one of those kids onstage,” she remembers. “Performing was the only goal.” Clark, a New York City native, was accepted into the School of American Ballet at age 7, became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in 2016, and was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2017.

With her elongated limbs and polished port de bras, Clark is a remarkably self-possessed dancer who uses her 5′ 10 1/2″ frame to fully inhabit every choreographic moment and musical note. She debuted in a slew of roles in 2023, including the Tall Girl in George Balanchine’s “Rubies” and the lead woman in Haieff Divertimento, which hadn’t been performed by NYCB since 1994. As more opportunities continue to come her way, Clark is determined to squeeze as much as possible out of each experience: “My overarching goal is always to continue growing—in my technique, my artistry, and my approach to new roles.”

a female with long brown hair looking at the camera
Photo by Jonah Rosenberg.

Embracing the Unfamiliar
“I love exploring different movement styles, even if they’re not my forte. When I was rehearsing Justin Peck’s sneaker ballet The Times Are Racing, I had to tackle questions like ‘How does my weight need to be distributed differently in a sneaker versus a pointe shoe?’ or ‘How can I syncopate the steps and accent certain moments that reveal different aspects of the music?’ ”

Using Imagination as a Tool
“As an English major at Columbia University, I love storytelling. When preparing for a role, I imagine a character or story to inform my movement. Even for something plotless like Haieff Divertimento or ‘Rubies,’ there’s a certain flavor to each part. It’s helpful to think about steps in terms of analogies and images, ranging from moving my hands through water to embodying a strand of seaweed in the ocean.”

A Recurring Pinch-Me Moment
“Dancing Balanchine’s Serenade always feels like a career-reaffirming experience. I’ve performed it for many seasons, and every time, it hits me that I’m living in the tableau I dreamed of for so long. It’s such a community-based ballet, and one of my favorite things about this career is connecting with the dancers around me—they’re my best friends and greatest sources of inspiration. To dance as part of a group, especially in a ballet containing so much meaning and joy, will always be a highlight.”