By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
This is probably the coolest art course I have ever seen: "Comprehensive Fundamentals of Blacksmithing" at the Center for Metal Arts in nearby Florida, New York (845-651-7550, iceforge.com). If Jennifer Beals's comeback on The L Word hasn't reinspired welding fantasies, maybe the glossy allure of "Freeform Forging" will.
If you have trouble navigating Manhattan's galleries, enroll in "The Contemporary Art Scene," offered by the 92nd Street Y (212-415-5562, 92y.org). Walking tours offer insights into current trends, providing the opportunity to enrich and even move beyond your one painstakingly memorized art anecdote.
"Drawing Flowers With Colored Pencil" at the New York Botanical Gardens (800-322-6924, nybg.org.edu) invites those with mysteriously large quantities of broken crayons to stop hoarding and instead create something beautiful. But if flowers seem threateningly intricate, take baby steps with "Drawing for Absolute Beginners" at Cooper Union (212-353-4195, www.cooper.edu/ce). Janine Armin
Does your knowledge of Brighton Beach start and end with Neil Simon's memoirs? Is your appreciation of Russian cuisine limited to off-color jokes about knishes? Resolve both deficiencies on a three-hour culinary walking tour of the historic Brooklyn neighborhood, run by the New School (212-255-4141, nsu.newschool.edu). See everything from fabled restaurants and delis to seaside ice cream parlors, then end with lunch. Sunday, May 1, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In these days of cocoa percentages and boutique chocolate shops, a good old Hershey bar just doesn't cut it. But if you knew that already, if you in fact haven't touched milk chocolate in 10 years and consider molten chocolate cake hopelessly '90s, then maybe it's time to take your connoisseurship to the next level with the New School's "Master Class in Chocolate" (212-255-4141, nsu.newschool.edu). You'll learn to make everything from candies to bavarois to diabetic shock. Five sessions, beginning April 25. Cost: $870 plus materials.
If you're an important figure in the world of cheese, you probably have to accept that people are going to call you the "Big Cheese." It happened to Rob Kaufelt, proprietor of the legendary Murray's Cheese Shop in the West Village, but thankfully he stayed in the game. Now he shares his expertise. Kaufelt holds a regular seminar, "Cheese 101: Ask the Big Cheese," at the store's new 254 Bleecker Street digs (212-243-3289, ext. 25, murrayscheese.com). Suitable for both the clueless and the caseophile, the class explains the fundamentals, offers a selection for tasting, and discusses wine pairings. Theo Schell-Lambert
Lower Manhattan's modern-dance hot spot Dance Space Center(212-625-8369, dancespace.com) hosts a guest-artist series this April and May. Popular choreographers Gerald Casel, Juliette Mapp, John Beasant III, Ashleigh Leite, and B.J. Sullivan bring their eclectic material for weekly programs of open classes.
Return to the earth: Explore African and Haitian classes at Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre (212-477-3464, djoniba.com). Beginners, try Saturdays from 2 to 3:30 p.m., taught by Djoniba (African dance) and Mikerline (Haitian dance). The mellow, noncompetitive environment stimulates you to the roots of dance through high-intensity classes and occasional live drumming. Katie Clancy
Unleash your inner Chris Rock at the "Stand-Up Comedy" class at NYU (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). You'll learn the tricks of this very difficult tradefrom how to write your own material to how to get gigsand after 10 sessions of practicing your set in front of your classmates and a final performance in a comedy club competition, maybe you'll be ready to host the Oscars!
If you read Arthur Miller's recent obit and wondered, "Who's he?" then perhaps enrollment in Columbia's "Discovering American Drama" (212-854-9699, ce.columbia.edu/summer) should be in your future. Explore the major American playwrights of the mid 20th century from Eugene O'Neill to Tennessee Williams. You'll never think of Miller as Mr. Marilyn Monroe again.
Do you always mean to go the theater, but never seem to actually get to any shows? NYU's "Summertime at the Play's the Thing" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) will get you off your butt, away from the summer reruns, and into the plush velvet seats of some Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters. Over the class's six sessions you'll see three shows and be treated to after-show discussions with actors and production staff. Rebecca Raber
Everyone and her mother has followed in Julia Roberts's footsteps and learned to knit; be different and learn to crochet. The Yarn Co.(212-787-7878, theyarnco.com) offers private, 90-minute lessons by appointment on Saturday afternoons for only $60, after which you'll have learned all of the basic stitches needed to make afghan blankets, hats, and sweaters.
Jealous of those girls on the L train in their super-hip, one-of-a-kind, handmade frocks? Learn how to execute your own happening designs at NYU's sewing class (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). You'll learn how to lay out a pattern, construct a garment, and use the sewing machineeven if you have no prior experience. Next thing you know some Gap-swathed kid will be envying you on the subway.
Love to express yourself through accessories? F.I.T.'s "Principles of Jewelry Design" (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu) will teach you how to create your ownso you'll always be an original. Rebecca Raber