The Nutcracker ballet is a beloved holiday tradition that has captivated audiences for generations. In the heart of Melbourne, the Melbourne Ballet Company has witnessed a truly extraordinary legacy unfold. For four consecutive generations a remarkable linage of dancers has taken on the iconic role of Clara in their productions of the Nutcracker. These talented dancers have not only bought the character of Clara to life on the stage, but in 2023 all four are still a part of the Melbourne Ballet Company in different capacities. Let’s delve into the captivating story of four generations of Clara and their enduring connection to the Melbourne Ballet Company.
- First Generation; A Pioneering Clara; The journey begins with Muriel (Unkauf) Simkiss. Muriel was a talented young dancer who commenced classes with the Melbourne Ballet Company when she was 5 years old. She danced the role of Clara
in 1981 and a few years after was accepted into the Australian Ballet School and on graduation was offered a contract at the Australian Ballet Company, where she danced many years under the Artistic Direction of Maina Gielgud. After her retirement from the Australian Ballet she started teaching adult ballet classes for the Melbourne Ballet Company, and in 2023 joined the teaching team for the students of our school nurturing young talent. Muriel captivated audiences with her Clara and
set the standard for future generations. In 2023 Muriel will be choreographing the Mirlitons dance for the Nutcracker. Muriel was in the same ballet class as Alisa Finney (Current Melbourne Ballet Company Director) growing up and they are so thrilled to be working side by side on the 2023 Nutcracker with our current talented dancers.
- Second Generation: Following the Footsteps; Talented young ballerina Alenka Paddle, student of Alisa Finney, played the role of Clara in 1999, after her dancing Alenka went on to study medicine and she is now a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who specializes in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery and works at the Royal Children’s Hospital restoring smiles to children with cleft palate. In 2023 Alenka returned “home” to the Melbourne Ballet Company as a dance mum, bringing her own two
beautiful young daughters Mia and Greta for classes, and for our 2023 Nutcracker Alenka will be side stage proudly watching her own little ballerinas shine on stage.
- Third Generation: A Captivating Artist; Sienna Pescetti played Clara not once but twice in 2016 and 2018 with the Melbourne Ballet Company. Sienna has been a student of Alisa Finney and part of the Melbourne Ballet Company family since she was 3 years old and has won many awards and scholarships, been a student teacher at the school, part of the MBC Extension Program as well as she continues to train hard in her own dance classes. In May 2023 Sienna was awarded a scholarship to the National Dance School of Canada for a Summer Intensive and in December 2023 she will be back on stage in our Nutcracker, including dancing Mirlitions choreographed by Muriel Simkiss.
- Fourth Generation; The Torchbearer; The story of Clara come in full circle with talented young Audrey Lawlor, current student of Alisa Finney and Muriel Simkiss, playing the role of Clara in our 2023 Nutcracker. With an enchanting stage presence, a natural talent for storytelling through movement, beautiful artistry and technique, Audrey will shine as our Clara in December2023. Our 2023 audience is in for such a treat as this special ballet role has been handed down the generations, with seamless transition of the role from one generation of MBC dancer to the next, affirming the legacy that has become synonymous with the Melbourne Ballet Company. All four generations of Clara have worn the same Clara costumes and been such a muck loved an important part of the Melbourne Ballet Company History.