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• • • art

Before applying brush to canvas or chisel to stone, you might—or might not—need to know what art is in the first place. Along with courses on Native American art, performance art, and 20th-century artists, the New School (229-5600) is taking it back to basics with a course on what art is anyway. The class will discuss how definitions of art, and its role in society, have changed over the course of history, and will look at recent attacks on art funding in the United States.


Collage is one of the most important art forms of the new millennium. Or so says the School of Visual Arts (592-2000), which is devoting a course to the medium this fall. Mosaic, cut paper, mixed-media and photomontage will be covered.


If a less high art is more of interest, Hunter College (650-3850) offers instruction in "basic drawing for graphic communication." The class, "Cartoon & Caricature," is taught by Irwin Hasen, creator of Dondi and the Green Lantern. —Kurt Gottschalk

• • • cooking

Every fine wine starts with good dirt. Andrew Harwood (917-838-8591; www.nycwineclass.com) has had plenty of fertile soil on his hands. He's made wine in Hungary, France, and California, and now teaches a semiweekly wine appreciation course that emphasizes understanding wine "from the ground up."


Sharpening your skills through cutting class: This would be an oxymoron anywhere but at the New School (255-4141; www.nsu.newschool.edu/culinary), which offers a one-day “Knife Skills Workshop’’ for those interested in chopping, mincing, slicing, boning, carving, and filleting like a TV chef.


Dare to surpass Smuckers, transcend Welch's, and put Bonne Maman back on the étagère. The Institute of Culinary Education (847-0770) www.iceculinary.com) provides "Jams, Jellies and Preserves," a one-day crash course in preserving berries, apples, and other fruits. Grandma would be proud. —Danial Adkison

• • • dance

"Belly dancing, to me, is a uniquely feminine form of expression—unfathomably deep and powerful, yet playful and joyous at the same time," says Stella Grey, who teaches the Middle Eastern dance at the New York Open Center and the 92nd Street Y. Contact her for her private classes at a Tribeca loft: 541-5054. Cost: $10-$15 a class.


Mamadou Dahoue, who danced with the National Ballet of Côte d'Ivoire, is from a family of traditional masked dancers, teaches the distinctive leaps and bounds of West African dance with live drummers on Thursdays and Saturdays at the Rod Rodgers Dance Studios on East 4th Street (674-9066). Cost: $12 a class.


Beginners and those with physical challenges are welcome at the New York Contact Jam(Monday nights at the Children’s Aid Society in Greenwich Village; $5 donation) to experience the wild, early-’70s–born communal modern dance form known as contact improvisation. Contact Jim Dowling (718-768-3492) or go to groups.yahoo.com/group/contactnyc/ for info on classes and jams. —Anya Kamenetz

• • • drama

Augusto Boal developed the Theater of the Oppressed to serve political groups in Latin America, helping them to seek solutions through direct action. In this workshop at the Brecht Forum (242-4201; www.brechtforum.org), on September 21 and 22, you can learn the same problem-posing techniques that have been utilized by organizers for decades. Explore the role of power, learn how to transform the spectator into a participant, and find ways to build consensus. Cost: $60-75, sliding scale.


You may not master the art that dare not speak its name, but you can certainly try to get inside the comedy. In the New School’s “Mime and Comedy Workshop” (www.nsu.newschool.edu) on September 28, you’ll start off learning how to slam a hand into a window, or how to trip on a rug, and then graduate into breaking a priceless vase or choking during opera singing. Cost: $80.


The projector is broken, and the needle on your record player just snapped. A roomful of guests and no entertainment. Time for some face-to-face storytelling. At the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (998-7200; scps.nyu.edu), from September 25 to December 4, you can learn the complex process of incorporating voice, body, and movement and adapt the folklore performance of your ancestors. You’ll be prepared for anything. Cost: $415. —Ariston Anderson

• • • fashion

So you’ve finally found the closet apartment of your dreams. Now the only problem is how to add a few decorations while still being able to maneuver around the 4 x 6 space. Learn the secrets of the pros at NYU’s “Interior Design: Manhattan Style” (scps.nyu.edu), from September 18 to October 9, and master the secrets of lighting, color, storage, and furniture. Recent classes have visited apartments by Jamie Drake and Clodagh. Cost: $235.


You've spent 18 years in the PR industry. And yet your closet is full of handmade designs, and your desk crowded with patterns and prints. It's time to quit your office stint and chase after your natural calling. Start at the Fashion Institute of Technology (www.fitnyc.suny.edu), the place to learn the industry. With "Image Consulting" or "Decorative and Wearable Arts," you'll be able to make up for lost time.


At the Learning Annex’s “How to Start Your Own Cosmetics Line” (www.learningannex.com) on Tuesday, September 24, makeup gurus Anthony Gill and Christina Bornstein show you how to capitalize on your homemade pomegranate lipstick and turn it into your own company. They’ll give you the lowdown on their own visualization technique for success, as well as provide advice for every business starter. Cost: $49. —Ariston Anderson

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