Dust off your camera. Study photography with National Endowment of the Arts grant recipient Louis Lanzano, who instructs you in night photography, filter use, digital imaging, PhotoShop, and more. Courses are at the Learning Annex (371-0280), September 12, 19, and 26 and October 17, 24, and 31, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Cost: $99 (plus $10 registration fee). A 35mm SLR camera is required.

Experience the wonders of black-and-white photography at Columbia University (854-3771), where you'll learn printing techniques, the language of photo criticism, darkroom operations, and more. Class starts September 5 and runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Application required.

Leave your digital camera at home and instead bring . . . cardboard? Pinhole photography, offered at the New School (229-5122), familiarizes you with the possibilities of this forgotten method. Students build their own cameras, as well as shoot and process film. Offered in three sessions beginning on November 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. —Jason Pierce


Body and soul, you're dragging; lately, life seems more "oh, happy dagger" than "oh, happy day." Unless sad-sackdom becomes you, give NIA a whirl. Short for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, NIA fuses yoga, ballet, jazz, the martial arts, and funk for a mind-body-spirit workout that burns between 300 and 600 calories per hour and transforms you physically and spiritually. Jogging, jumping, and leaping are taboo. But grunting or shouting words like Hut, Hai, and Yes aren't, since NIA devotees believe that sound effects empower. In a funk last winter, I signed up for an NIA class and skulked in, expecting leotards and Yanni. Instead, there were bare feet, inspiring dance moves, and the Flashdance theme. What a feeling, indeed! For more information and to locate classes near you, check out or call 800-762-5762.

Epicures go sotto voce when jawing about cooking as religion. It's holy and so edifying, they whisper. If you want to take their words literally and investigate those claims, the Natural Gourmet Cookery School is an excellent place to start. Lectures, classes, and workshops span beginner ("Tablespoon Tastings") to advanced ("Hands-On") levels, range from $40 to $495, and focus on topics that feed both modern bodies and spirits. Offerings include "Cooking for Cancer Recovery," "Stuck in Detox: The Basics," and "For Body and Soul: A Rosh Hashana Feast." For information on fall and winter schedules, call 645-5170 or try —Nita J. Rao


If New York's insane real estate market has pushed you into some potentially hostile territory, try the fully modern, practical self-defense techniques of Krav Maga Inc. (580-5335, The Israeli Defense Forces' "contact combat" system of the same name, modified for civilian use, emphasizes a simple, flexible, "no rules" approach to personal protection for everyone; certified instructors will teach you the basic kicks, punches, elbow blows, and countermeasures against head and body holds that could help you unilaterally negotiate your own shalom agreements. The price of peace is as closely guarded a secret as your average Camp David negotiation, but evening classes are available most days.

On the lighter side of diplomacy, no political or business deal-maker's repertoire is complete without some acumen on the links. For the initiate, the Golf Academy at Chelsea Piers (336-6444) has beginner clinics of four weekly classes, commencing throughout August and September, for $180. Similarly scheduled and priced women's clinics further the pluckily stated mission: to "break the grass ceiling," teaching fundamental golf skills and fairway etiquette. The academy's high-tech indoor facility, part of the open-to-the-public Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, is also the site for private lessons with Class-A PGA instructors ($70 per half-hour, $125 per hour), group lessons, and clinics for all players of all handicaps—ample opportunity to encounter the video-equipped "swing analysis computers." —E. McMurtrie

Capoeira Angola Palmares NY Academy (677-2203, was the first studio in New York to emphasize the Angolan dance form, which favors intelligence and strategy over speed and strength, teaching students to resolve a conflict without the use of force. Classes are offered throughout the year in two different dance spaces: the Cardinal Spellman Center (137 East 2nd Street) and the Dance Space Center (451 Broadway) for $80 a month (slightly more at the latter). Still not sure if capoeira's for you? The first class is only $10! For information, call 677-2203. —Camila Gamboa

visual arts

"Please turn off all cell phones and pagers," reads a sign above the entryway to the tranquil Spring Studio at 64 Spring Street (226-7240), which provides open life-drawing sessions to artists of all stripes for $10 a pop ($80 for 10, $350 for 50). Catch a session any day of the week, morning or evening: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

You don't have to drown in debt or commit to a bachelor's degree to take classes at the prestigious School of Visual Arts (592-2050, Their continuing-ed program offers graphic design, illustration, cartooning, film and video, fine arts, and photography courses, among others. Prices start at $360.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Winslow Homer, Jackson Pollock, and Louise Nevelson all attended the Art Students League of New York (247-4510), the 125-year-old institution with as many curricula as there are instructors. Choose from dozens of ongoing, pay-by-the-month courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Tuition ranges from $50 to $155. —Bryan Zimmerman

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