By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
Yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar remarked, "The body is your temple." The staff and attendees at Naked Yoga NYC apparently prefer that temple unadorned. More than just a workout, Naked Yoga claims, "By removing our clothes we are forced to examine our bodies and our belief patterns. We let go more quickly of what is holding us back, and plunge more deeply into our truth and our bliss." (We're a bit disturbed by that talk of plunging.) The curious yet squeamish will be pleased to learn that one is required to bring one's own mat.
Many New Yorkers simply don't have enough square feet to indulge their inner pack rats. But apparently some of us haven't let a mere lack of space keep us from acquiring way too much stuff. Enter Tracey Stanton. Using the techniques of feng shui, she will guide students in a five-week program of tidiness entitled "Clear Your Clutter: Free Your Life!" The course description promises: "She will also show you how to find a new sense of freedom and joy in your life as you release yourself from old habits, patterns, or relationships."
Theater and Performing Arts
Deep in the Bronx, a group of people engages in armed combat, breaks windows, and runs into one another with cars. Legally. For fun. And, perhaps, profit. For the past year, former stuntman Bob Cotter has operated Hollywood Stunts, an institute offering three-week courses in stunt fundamentals, weekend intensives in "fire burns" and "fighting for film," and classes for kids. Founder Cotter boasts a pilot's license, a motorcycle license, and, helpfully, first aid and CPR certification.
What you gon' do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? Ah, Fergie. Always asking those penetrating questions. Well, one thing you might do with your lovely lady lumps is to teach them to belly dance. And Serena is just the lady to provide the instruction. With 35 years of experience in the belly-dancing field (her website proclaims that "in Egypt, she is called an 'artiste' ") and multiple books and articles to her credit, Serena offers several classes a week in the ancient art. She also runs a boutique to cater to your humps' scarf, veil, and jingly-bits needs. • serenastudios.com
Lunchtime. Why spend it gnawing on a sandwich or slurping up soup when you could pass that hour away from your desk immersed in sexy walks, fan-dancing, chair-dancing, hip and shoulder movements, boa play, lap dance, striptease, and more? Downtown's School of Burlesque offers a weekly class entitled "Afternoon Flirt," which promises both a mild workout and an entrée into the world of exotic dance. Headmistress Jo Weldon (a/k/a Jo Boobs) teaches the titillating techniques. The school also offers seminars by stripping stalwarts World Famous BOB, Dirty Martini, various Pontani Sisters, and token male Tigger.
Hats off to the Fashion Institute of Technology for offering so many courses in the fine art of millinery. Chapeaux may no longer make up such an essential component of one's wardrobe, but for those who like to be on top of toppers, there are classes in making berets, baseball caps, helmets, hunting caps, draped leather crowns, and fur-cuff hats.
Apparently, even avid stitchers eventually hit a snag. After a few years they tire of Vogue Patterns and wish they could fashion their own designs. Happily, the Brooklyn General Store has just announced a course in pattern making. Students will design a T-shirt and an A-line skirt appropriate to their measurements and will learn "how to 'rub off' a pattern from a pre-existing garment." Some sewing experience necessary. • brooklyngeneral.com
In the Ukraine, the earliest examples of jewelry date from 40,000 B.C. But as human skill has evolved and mammoth ivory is no longer so readily available, Ukrainian jewelry has changed with the times. Some of the most popular and enduring examples of this finery are the intricate beaded necklaces called gerdany. The East Village's Ukrainian Museum offers a four-week course in these bead-weaving techniques. • ukrainianmuseum.org
Alfred Jarry defined pataphysics as "the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments." Less confusingly, Raymond Queneau explained it as based on "the truth of contradictions and exceptions." But in New York we know pataphysics as a series of exemplary and challenging playwriting workshops held at the Flea Theater. This summer, Erik Ehn will host a three-day intensive course for aspiring and established writers. • theflea.org/pataphysics/index.htm
We have it on good authority that there are eight million stories in the naked city, but most of us need a bit of assistance if we're going to get them down on paper. So it's no wonder that memoir-writing classes are some of the most popular that Gotham Writers' Workshop offers. Gotham features workshops for beginners and the more experienced, plus a master class for those with a complete or nearly complete draft of their life story.
Here's mud in your eye. Supermud. This Upper West Side pottery studio has offered classes in hand-building and wheel-throwing for nearly 30 years—that's a lot of coil vases and irregular coffee mugs. Should you wish to free your inner ceramicist, Supermud offers classes for adults, teenagers, and children, as well as clay-focused birthday parties. (We assume the refreshments are not themselves mud-based.)
Michelangelo said, "The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection." But whatever your religious beliefs, you might want to create that true work of art in the first place. If you can wangle enough vacation time, Parsons can give you a good start. During the summer, Parsons runs four-week-long intensives in drawing, painting, architecture, and sculpture. • parsons.edu
If you think your city kids have become a bit too citified, you can give your youngsters a rural experience without ever having to take them out of the five boroughs. The Queens Farm Museum offers several summer camp sessions. The working farm, which boasts pigs, sheep, goats, and crops, too, will keep kids occupied in activities concerning "photography, science, nature, cooking, arts/crafts, and farming aspects." • queensfarm.org
Your kiddies may be too young for a Nepalese trek, but you can start preparing them for that eventual Himalayan vacation with workshops at the Rubin Museum of Art. The West's only museum dedicated to the art of the Himalayas, the Rubin includes among its offerings "Yak Packers," a free weekly art program for children ages two to five. Kids will learn a bit about pieces at the Rubin and get to make art of their own, while listening to Nepalese music.
While few responsible parents would want their child to become the next Ricky Martin (those hips are rather terrifying), a musical, multilingual baby would be rather delightful. For 10 years, ¡Música Para Mí! has promised to teach kids both skills. With sessions in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, these music classes for young children are conducted in immersion-method Spanish. • geocities.com/greenjaybird
"All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun," proclaims Jean-Luc Godard on the International Film Institute of New York's website. Far be it from us to disagree with Godard, but we can't help but wonder if some instruction in the fundamentals of filmmaking might also prove useful. That's what's offered at IFI via their six-week filmmaking intensive, which covers everything from screenwriting and casting to lighting and lenses to postproduction and marketing. • nyfilmschool.com
Polaroid has recently announced it will stop production of its instant cameras and refill packs, and while many features are still shot on film for the time being, can the movie industry really be so far behind? To prepare for the wave of the future, you might take a few classes at the Digital Film Academy. The Academy offers beginning, advanced, and crash-course instruction in becoming a digital auteur as well as classes in special effects, animation, and making a music video.
Food and Drink
Founded by a Calabrian immigrant in 1948, A&S Pork Store has supplied Brooklynites with all the joy a pig can bring for 60 years. Though originally the shop sold only pork, it has since diversified into prepared foods, beef, poultry, lamb, and extraordinary fresh and smoked mozzarella, It's simple enough—and delightful—to purchase hunks of these cheeses, but A&S also offers, by request, classes in learning the art and science of mozzarella making. • asporkstore.com
In The Godfather, Pete Clemenza is instructed to "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." Really, it's the right call. First developed in Palermo, these "little tubes" are filled with sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, and, if you ask us, a little touch of heaven. You can learn to make similar Italian desserts and gelato in a mere three sessions at the Italian Culinary Academy.
3rd Ward, a studio space in East Williamsburg, has 20,000 square feet at its disposal, so it's no surprise they have room for wood and metal shops, a recording studio, a dance studio, a photo studio, an art gallery, and a yard—with picnic tables! They also offer a changing roster of classes in their digital-media studio, designed to instruct beginners and more experienced students in the vagaries of Web design, Photoshop, and Flash. • 3rdward.com
While many New Yorkers are animated, few are actually animators. You can join their rare ranks with a couple of classes at the School of Visual Arts. Though they do offer some instruction in old-school techniques such as stop motion and hand drawing, you can also learn the high-tech artistries of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and After Effects.
As the current war staggers along and prejudice against Middle Easterners continues, many New Yorkers have felt it's time to know more about the these countries and their cultures. To aid this, the Network of Arab-American Professionals has founded the Arabic Language Program. These small classes, limited to 18 students, provide a foundation in Modern Standard Arabic. • naaponline.org
Now how will you ever converse with those stunning Brazilian models if you remain ignorant of Portuguese? Fret not, would-be lovers of Gisele and Adriana. Brazil Ahead offers courses in beginning Portuguese, Portuguese for Spanish speakers, business Portuguese, and a history of the past century of Brazilian music—to ensure you and Adriana have something to talk about on your dates. • brazil-ahead.com
It's Istanbul, not Constantinople, and for the past few centuries Turkish has been the lingua franca. So if you'd like to correctly order your Turkish meze or most effectively haggle over a pair of sneakers in the market, you might enroll in a course at the Turkish Cultural Center. The center offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes in Turkish, as well instruction in literature and conversation and screening of Turkish films.
Dream weavers, I believe you can get me through the night, and I also believe you can make those dreams of weaving a reality with classes at the Yarn Tree, a Williamsburg shop and studio run by Linda LaBelle, a fiber-arts aficionado who designed the costumes for Matthew Barney's Cremaster films. Courses include spinning and weaving as well as occasional instruction in crochet, lace knitting, and felting. • theyarntree.com
The Queens Farm Museum has occupied 47 acres of Queens since at least 1697. It's still a working farm, producing eggs, honey, corn, tomatoes, apples, and wine. And during its evening workshops, you can learn how to produce your own quilts. In these six-week sessions, held on Tuesday evenings, Evelyn Birkhold instructs students in the patchwork arts.
Knock wood. And carve it, turn it, or hack away at it with a table saw. Peter's Valley Craft Center offers a series of woodworking workshops including "Router Madness," "Furniture Design," "Tools and Stools," and "Turning Outside the Box." Let the shavings and sawdust fly.
Boxing has suffered some low blows in the past several years—ear biting, fan riots, corrupt refs. But let's remind ourselves that pugilism is an ancient sport, practiced as early as 1500 B.C. Those who would learn the formidable art might wish to learn the ropes at Church Street Boxing. With a coaching staff comprised of current and former competitors, the facility caters to boxers of nearly every age, sex, and level of expertise. Sounds like a knockout place.
En garde! Last year, Marty Markowitz proclaimed September 26 Brooklyn Fencing Day. Perhaps you yearn to take a more active role in this year's celebrations. Happily, Carroll Gardens' Brooklyn Fencing Center offers classes in saber, foil, and épée, as well as camps, training groups, and even birthday parties for kiddies, complete with foam sabers.
A Japanese scroll inscribed some seven or eight centuries ago proclaims, "To appreciate and find pleasure in curiously curved potted trees is to love deformity." Those who would seek to love deformity or seek to love very small and immaculately cultivated trees might consider enrolling in one of the many bonsai courses offered at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. This summer's classes include bonsai for beginners, a bonsai training and care workshop, and chrysanthemum bonsai. • nybg.org
Joan McDonald's lectures on the birds and the bees may prove more instructive than titillating. A horticulturist, Ms. McDonald offers a course in gardening for wildlife. If you follow her precepts, your garden should become a refuge for birds, bees, and butterflies, too. You can even learn how to "certify your garden as a wildlife habitat." • bbg.org/edu/adult
The Oxford American Dictionary proclaimed "localvore" the word of the year for 2007. But you can give that word a new and personal meaning if you attend the American Museum of Natural History's "Sustainable Food and Agriculture of Manhattan" event. Participants will tour the borough, visiting bakeries and beverage makers, and learning about community-supported agriculture. • amnh.org
"Earth laughs in flowers," insisted Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you'd like to capture those chuckles for posterity, you might enroll in one of the many garden-photography courses and workshops at the New York Botanical Garden. Students can choose among introductions to digital cameras, lectures on the art of garden pictures, and workshops with Rich Pomerantz or Allen Rokach on subjects such as "The Power of Natural Light" and "Mastering Floral Close-ups." • nybg.org
This should be news to all those girls publishing raunchy shots on Facebook, but according to Manhattan's Open Center, photography can have spiritual dimensions as well. In the six-week course "Photography: Capturing the Decisive Moment," instructor Denny Tillman will instruct students in "how to capture an image that goes beyond a 'snapshot.' "
Perhaps you look forward to a career as a professional makeup artist, or perhaps you merely believe it would be hilarious to show up at parties with a self-applied black eye and murmur shyly, "Oh, this? It's nothing." Happily, the Last Looks Makeup Academy can satisfy both these desires, and teach you how to apply a bald cap in the bargain. Summer courses include "Just Eyes," "Trauma/Injury Makeup," and "Portfolio Beauty Week."
In 1961, Allen Ginsberg wrote, "first dream of India—huge red and brown night boulevard by water. I'm deliriously happy, it's my promised land." India was seen as a promised land for many of Ginsberg's generation, an idea explored in "The Beats and India," a daylong symposium on June 14 at the Asia Society. The program explores India and America's mutual influence in the 1960s and includes "discussions, poetry, and performances and images."