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Health /Body/Wellness

Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, described it as "The secret art of inviting happiness, the miraculous medicine of all diseases." As a total panacea sounds quite all right to us, we might consider learning the massage technique of Reiki, or "universal life energy." The New York Open Center offers Reiki instruction at all levels, including Reiki 1, an introductory workshop promising "a practical tool for relaxation, balance and harmony in your life."

Stitch this: FIT students learn design.
photo: FIT
Stitch this: FIT students learn design.

Holistic medicine may have become all the rage for humans, but we can't really see dogs, cats, and goldfish signing up for acupuncture and reflexology. But the New York Open Center disagrees, offering a five-day workshop in Tellington Touch (TT) for Animals: Foundation Training. According to the course description: "TTouch is a bodywork method . . . designed to activate the body's deep cellular intelligence so that it can release stored memories of pain and fear that block energy and cause illness. . . . Coupled with TTouch bodywork techniques are movement and balance exercises which help animals transfer their new awareness of themselves into everyday life." Let's see just how self-aware Fluffy or Fido really is.


Short skirts, long skirts, baby-doll dresses, bandage dresses, heels, flats—keeping up with the latest styles can be a confusing and exhausting (and expensive) process. Happily, Parsons offers a course in Fashion Trends. Slide lectures and fashion history alternate with roundtable discussions about contemporary currents and designs.

Tom Jones may have sung, seductively, "You Can Leave Your Hat On," but how much better it would be if that hat left on were a nice hat, perhaps one you had designed yourself. If that's your goal, you can't top the Fashion Institute of Technology's course in Foundations in Headwear Design, where "students acquire basic stitching, patternmaking, and blocking skills while completing a beret, baseball cap, draped felt hat, and a one-piece blocked felt hat."

Theater and Performing Arts

Those of you who have been impressed by recent theatrical hits such as The Exonerated, I Am My Own Wife, Guantánamo, or The Laramie Project may have a yen to produce some drama-vérité of your own. To that end, you might consider the New School's class in Documentary Theater. We have some trepidation about the inclusion of The Vagina Monologues on the syllabus, but we're confident students can transcend the pudendal as they "choose their own subject matter and develop individual and collaborative projects through interviews, oral histories, writing, and acting."

Girls—and the occasional boy—don't stop dreaming of tutus and toe shoes simply because they grow up. Those of us grown-ups who still harbor ballerina fantasies might find fulfillment at Dance New Amsterdam. If you suspect your knowledge of ballet is too lacking even for the Slow Beginner class, you might consider Martha Chapman's Intro to Ballet Workshop. Students receive a thorough schooling in ballet vocabulary as well as instruction in basic techniques.

Most pop-culture authorities place the origins of hip-hop dance in early-1970s New York. So we've had at least 30 years to learn the techniques. Still haven't mastered the intricacies of breaking, freestyle, or boogaloo? You might register for Snap, Pop & Lock at the Alvin Ailey Extension. In addition to learning "Da Jason, Da Mona Lisa, Da Bill Cosby, Da James Brown, Da Wop, Smerf, Alf, Da Kid n' Play, Da RoofTop, Popping & Locking Drills & Combos, Top Rock, Latin Rock and Basic Breaking Skills," students may also benefit from "Injury Prevention & Health and Wellness Tips From a Certified Personal Trainer and Life-Style Wellness Coach."">


When I was 11 years old, I wrote a short mystery story, heavily influenced by Agatha Christie, called "Banbury Cross," which featured a Gypsy woman, gambling debts, and a recording of a typewriter providing a false alibi. It's a shame I haven't nurtured such obvious talent, but I could now that I've discovered the Mystery Writing 10 Week Workshop at Gotham Writers' Workshop. Would-be sleuthers will write one or two short stories, or begin work on a novel.

"Either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing," said Benjamin Franklin. Since few of us seem to be succeeding with the latter, we may as well try the former, perhaps with the aid of's Novel Writing: Draft Your Novel in Three Months course. The class promises that by its end you will have an 80- to 100-page draft of a novel (so maybe they should call it Novella Writing?) and learn how to outline and create characters, and "the secret behind perfect dialogue."


What a feeling! Many of us who came of age in the '80s associate welding inextricably with a certain Flashdance sequence, but apparently this technique is good for more than sexy montages. In Sculpture Workshop: Welding, offered at the New School, students will learn to "weld, braze, bend, and cut steel with a torch," all for the good of the visual arts. Students will be encouraged to design their own metallic masterworks.

In case you've always longed to be one of those slightly creepy museum denizens armed with camp stool, drawing pad, and charcoals, Parsons can make this particular dream a reality. The school offers Drawing at the Met. Amid the very finest of fine art, students of all levels will learn drawing techniques while perched before some very impressive examples. And imagine the collection of those metal admission pins you'll acquire!

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