Lareen began taking ballet in 1935. By 1940 she was studying with the great Dorothy Perkins in Kansas City. Dorothy Perkins “Perky” was a student of Enrico Cecchetti and Joseph Pilates. Lareen was one of Dorothy Perkins most beloved students. By 1948 Lareen graduated high school and moved to New York City where she studied at Studio 61 in the old Carnegie Hall Studios. She worked with Anthony Tudor, Edward Caton, Eugene Loring, Margaret Caske, Paul Petroff, and Agnes de Mille. In 1948 she was dancing professionally with the Jack Cole Dancers, Arden-Fletcher Dancers, and the great Nita Bieber. With Nita Bieber’s Company, Lareen was in a series of Louis D. Snader films called Snader Telescriptions. These were the first TV music videos. As a member of the Actors Equity Association she was seen in many productions throughout Los Angeles, Canada, New York City , Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, and many Hollywood dance specials. Lareen was enthralled with the dance direction of Busby Berkeley, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.
In 1951 she started her second chapter of life, married and had 5 children. She raised her children in Lafayette, CA. She loved being a mother and raising her family. Her passion and deep love of dance was part of Lareen and her daily life. In 1975 she separated from her husband and after her youngest son was in school, Lareen decided to return to the world of dance and in 1975 she was teaching ballet for a local studio. By 1976 she had waiting lists for her classes, and students were traveling from all over the area to study with her. With the encouragement of her family she decided to open her own school and The Ballet School was born. Once her classes were in full swing, she would often travel to New York to work with the renowned Maggie Black and studied technique under her teaching. Maggie Black was deeply respected by many professional dancers and companies from all over the world.
Lareen was well respected by Robert Joffrey and Richard England with the Joffrey Ballet. They recognized her meticulous teaching and training of body alignment and would go on to work with many of Lareen’s dancers in their company, The Joffrey Ballet. In 2006 Lareen was honored by the Legacy Oral History Program at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum. They commissioned Leslie Rupley to interview and write a book on Lareen’s life work. Lareen’s training with her teacher’s training are a respected part of dance history. A very special honor.
Lareen trained and inspired thousands of students over three decades. She passed away in August 2011 after fighting a valiant nine year battle with cancer. Lareen Fender lived a remarkable, passionate, authentic, healthy, well lived life. Her teachings live on!