To inspire a lifelong interest in the performing arts, create ballet dancers of a recognized caliber, and develop model young individuals by encouraging commitment, dedication and the sustained pursuit of excellence in the art of dance.
Having both experienced the benefits of a rich and varied formal dance education, founders Maartje and Ryan Lawrence created the Movement Arts Center in 2015. Their hope was and remains to foster the same lifelong appreciation among future generations of dancers and their families that they experienced first as students at top level conservatories and later as professional dancers. Much like those conservatories the goal with what is now commonly referred to as SLOMAC is to create a retreat, a place for dancers to explore and develop – not just their technical skills, but the life skills inherent in training of an historical art form.
Meet the Founders
Ryan and Maartje are both highly trained ballet professionals with degrees in dance from The Juilliard School and Het National Ballet Academy of the Netherlands, respectively. Their performance careers literally span continents...
Meet Our Faculty
"The training at Movement Arts Center is the best we have found anywhere!"
--M. Wilson on Yelp
Catherine Russel Barnickel
Raised in Philadelphia, PA Catherine trained and performed with The Pennsylvania Ballet and later with the Massachusetts Youth Ballet, School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet School under such notable teachers as Gloria Govrin, Carter Alexander, Sandra Jennings and Suzanne Farrell. She danced with the Kansas City Ballet for 12 years performing many classical principal and soloist roles, a large number of Balanchine works, and modern and contemporary pieces. She is delighted to be sharing her knowledge and experience with the students at SLO Movement Arts Center.
Heather Gray holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is a dancer and photographer living on the Central Coast and returning frequently to Colorado to work and play. Active in community and caring passionately about the arts, society, and human rights, she infuses her class with music and movement that breeds introspection and personal development.
Mia has been dancing for more than 15 years, having grown up competing in national dance competitions. She has trained in lyrical, contemporary, jazz, ballet, pointe, tap, and musical theatre. Mia now teaches lyrical and jazz at the SLO Movement Arts Center as well as choreographs for soloists at national competitions. She loves working with kids and is so excited to be a part of the SLO MAC family!
Logan Castro, MMA holds two bachelor's degrees in music performance and a master’s of music in music theory and composition from Florida State University where he was a faculty member from 2015-2018. Logan has taught music in various environments including his first dance studio. Logan is excited to be back in a similar environment from where he got his start and finds that at the SLO Movement Arts Center, music and movement can be combined to further one's understanding of rhythm, melody, ear training, and musicianship.
is a former dancer with the San Francisco Ballet Company where she performed works from George Balanchine to Mark Morris. She has also danced works by Avi Scher, Constantine Baeacher, Martha Graham, Elisa Monte, and Anna Sokolow while dancing in NYC. In addition to classical ballet, Katya has training in acting from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and in improvised theater from the Upright Citizens Brigade
Annie is a local dancer and Pilates instructor with several years of teaching experience both here and in Santa Barbara. Her knowledge of ballet and the body make her uniquely qualified to work with dancers beginning their ballet journey.