Lareen Fender’s The Ballet School Performing Arts has been in Walnut Creek since 1976 and is one of the longest running businesses in existence in Downtown Walnut Creek. Lareen Fender, the founder of the school, created a truly remarkable foundation. Lareen started a school where artists could foster their passion for dance and theatre. She created a legacy by having taught thousands of students over the history of The Ballet School. Her attention to detail and clean lines were her trademark. Lareen honored tradition and kept The Ballet School very true in the midst of media and pop culture. She held steady in her teachings and her philosophies through all of it. Lareen never wanted to have a school that “competed” or wore “skimpy costumes.” She wanted children to stay children so they would grow to respect themselves and their bodies as they grew into teens and adults. Lareen instilled many life lessons in her teachings. She was a marvel. She passed away in August 2011 after a 10 year battle with cancer. Through her passion and love for the arts she led her school and students to the top of all fields; dancers, actors, doctors, teachers, mothers, fathers, lawyers, CEOs, and on and on.
I am lucky enough to say that Lareen Fender is my grandmother. I have had the privilege of growing up right here in Walnut Creek and have spent many hours in the classroom training with my grandmother over the years. I have been inspired my whole life by her and all her teachings in dance and life. We shared a very special bond and love for each other. I have been training at the school my entire life and have been running the school since 2001. I know that when my Grandmother, Lareen, moved forward that she was very proud of The Ballet School Performing Arts and all the vibrant joyous energy that you feel when you come to the school. The feeling of family, tradition and joy is felt everywhere. My goal is to continue the great teachings in the classroom through dance, theatre and life lessons.
We’re keeping the tradition alive. I know that The Ballet School was a huge part of my growing up, but what I realize now is that I was learning so much more than ballet. I was learning so much about LIFE within the classroom walls. I was learning about discipline within myself, I was learning to express my feelings through movement, I was acting, telling stories, creating a sense of myself and who I would eventually become. I was gaining poise and confidence and was learning how to be JOYFUL and RESPECTFUL to myself and others. By training and studying the excellence of ballet, I was learning what true COMMITMENT was. I would not be the person I am today without every moment I spent at The Ballet School. I made many choices in my life to continue the LEGACY my grandmother created.
I know there is really no place like The Ballet School. At The Ballet School Performing Arts, we celebrate the gift of everyday. We stay positive in our teaching and still teach excellent body alignment and technique, and discipline within both. It is my continued goal as director and owner of the school to continue to inspire and teach excellence in the classroom, as well as create a safe environment to grow and learn. It is very important to me to have an excellent teaching staff in the classroom who are wonderful role models for the students to look up to. The Ballet School Performing Arts is a very special place in so many ways. It’s our HOME away from HOME. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Lareen Fender’s The Ballet School Performing Arts. The Legacy continues…
First, let me say we have been MORE than impressed with how you all have handled the chaos of 2020. As a teacher myself, I’ve been so impressed at how all the TBSPA teachers have kept my kiddo engaged on Zoom, still moving and still loving dance. Additionally, we are so impressed with the slow, cautious and safe way the reopening is being handled – I honestly feel more safe sending my daughter back for in-person ballet than I do with academic school plans to reopen.
Thank you for all your work to keep the community connected. It means SO MUCH to the kids and parents.
I grew up dancing at The Ballet School, from age 5 through high school. I now happily attend classes as an adult, and the magical family feeling is still there as strong as ever. The studio has expanded in so many ways, and the new classes offered are so fun. Beyond ballet, I have enjoyed tap and musical theater dance! The teachers and staff are fun, and the place is always packed. Check it out – I think you’ll have a blast!
The Ballet Joyeux
The Ballet Joyeux, a classical ballet Company, is the performing Company of The Ballet School. This well-established Company, led by San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award and Shellie Award Winner, Jennifer Perry has been performing for the past twenty-eight years throughout the Bay Area. The company repertoire includes such productions as Etudes, Peter, Petra and The Wolf, Concert Waltzes, Cakewalk, Celebration for Life, Rodeo, The Shellie Awards, Art on the Main, Thanks for The Memory, and The Family Day Festival, celebrating the opening of the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts. The Company has performed with Diablo Symphony, and continues to perform lecture demonstrations yearly, which provide a visual demonstration of the training and yearly, which provide a visual demonstration of the training and development of a dancer.
The Ballet Joyeux Company has become a beloved treasure to families throughout Contra Costa County, and many of the company’s dancers have gone on to professional theater and dance careers throughout the United States and Europe. Each December, The Ballet Joyeux is proud to present ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS, a delightful narrated holiday ballet, which allows audience members of all ages to pass across the threshold of make-believe into a world where dreams can and do come true by learning to first believe in oneself.
Lareen Fender Scholarship Fund
July 25th, 1932 – August 25th, 2011
In loving memory and in tribute to Lareen, The Lareen Fender Memorial Scholarship Fund “If You Can Dream It, You Can Become It” Scholarship has been established and will be awarded to a college-bound Lareen Fender The Ballet School Performing Arts student, who has shown passion and dedication in their training, to assist with expenses for their continuing education.
Miss Lareen passed away very peacefully on Thursday, August 25th, 2011. She was surrounded by her family, and in the most peaceful setting of her own home in Lafayette, CA. She left this earth with GRACE, DIGNITY, and STRENGTH. Her presence will forever be felt here at The Ballet School and her teachings will continue far into the future.
She really is a bright star in the sky.
She will be missed greatly.
We will always love her deeply.
Her legacy will continue.
A LIFE well lived. A great example to all of us.
“It’s very clear, our love is here to stay, not for a year, but ever and a day.”
If you would like to make a donation in Lareen’s Memory, please send to:
Lareen Fender Memorial Scholarship Fund
1131 Locust Street
Walnut Creek CA, 94596
2012 Olivia Trevarthen
2013 Lauryn Sloan
2014 Guilia Marinos
2015 Katia Coate
2016 Tess Cameron
2017 Laura May and Katie Sovik
2018 Kailee Sanderson
2019 Sofia Odeste
2020 Elysse Hammami
2021 Emily Tatum