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Maybe you have a deep impression of the Impressionists and a firm handle on baroque sculpture, but find conceptual art rather, well, inconceivable. If so, then you might enroll in Understanding Contemporary Art: The Essential Guide to New Art and New Media, one of the excellent courses offered at New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. This course traces developments in the art world from the 1960s to the present.

Soho has long ceded its claim as a mecca for artists, as its theaters and galleries increasingly give way to H&M and Uniqlos. But a few spaces have survived the onslaught of fast fashion and fab cashmere. One such site, the Spring Studios in Soho, survives into its 16th year offering life-drawing classes every day of the week. Priced at less than $10 per class when purchased in bulk, they include tutorials in portrait drawing, the Bargue method, and "the Natural Way to Draw."

For Children

According to a highly scientific study of photos in Hello! and a couple of dirty weekends spent in Paris, we've found that French children are infinitely more adorable than their American counterparts. If you can't manage to make your own children French, you can at least ensure they have an accent vraiment merveilleux at the French Institute Alliance Française. Children as young as one can get started learning their chat from their chien using songs, stories, and hopefully small bribes in the form of Petit Écolier cookies.

Many parents consider their teens sufficiently dramatic. But for those rare progenitors who think their offspring ought to become even more theatrical, there's Drama Kids. These studios, with outposts in 19 countries and two boroughs (Manhattan and Staten Island), train students in speech, dramatic movement, and improvisation, as well as a bit of playwriting. Imagine the improvements movement and vocal technique will make in their abilities for eye-rolling and derisive laughter. Programs for kids as young as three are also available.

Fourth grade may seem a rather tender age to enroll a child in a pre-college program, but then again most pre-college programs don't teem with offerings in painting, cartooning, fashion design, and even interior design. That's just part of the curriculum at the Parsons Pre-College Academy. In addition to having fun and learning valuable skills, your pre-teen can supplement his or her allowance by redesigning your living room. Several scholarships are available.

Food and Drink

In another time of economic hardship, the suffering were callously instructed to eat cake. But maybe that's not terrible advice. Cake's awfully cheering, and just imagine the charming and tasty cakes you might make after a few classes at Pattycakes in Jackson Heights, Queens. In addition to courses in such confections as candy-chocolate cake, tres leches cake, and red velvet cake, the school offers instruction in cake decorating, advanced fondant, gumpaste flowers, and Dominican decoration.

Josie's Restaurants have a reputation for thoughtful, nutrition-conscious cuisine. Happily, their interest in the wholesome and nourishing includes a healthy interest in booze. On March 25, their Citrus restaurant on the Upper West Side will offer a Toast to Spring class, featuring cocktails, food pairings, and "mind-altering mixers." The class will cover drink mixing, hors d'oeuvre preparation, and how to shop for party supplies.


While New York does not require more pneumatic blondes or smog, we wouldn't mind if some aspects of Hollywood arrived in our fair city—warm weather, say, or decent Mexican food. Until global warming and immigration patterns make those whims reality, we can content ourselves with a visit from the Hollywood Institute's Two-Day Film School: A Crash Course for Writers, Producers, and Directors, coming to Pratt's Manhattan campus on March 14 and 15. In 48 hours, this fast-forward class will show you how to produce, direct, and shoot your film, and then finance, distribute, and sell it.

"Movies," said John Malkovich, "are all about lighting." Malkovich meant the comment derisively, but would-be auteurs might well benefit from a course in Cinematography and Lighting at the School of Visual Arts. A cinematographer for television, films, and music videos leads students through a seminar in techniques and effects for luminous filmmaking. Arriflex 16S, Bolex, and Sony cameras are used.


Perhaps you aspire toward a lucrative career as a television personality or radio host. But imagine the tedium of actually having to report to work at the network or studio. Instead, why not make your mark on the entertainment world with podcasting, which you can achieve from the comfort of your own computer. Among its various free workshops, the Apple Store in Soho offers a tutorial in using GarageBand and iWeb to realize those modest broadcasting dreams.

Perhaps you've been swayed by Justin Long's sensitive and nuanced performance as a Mac in those ubiquitous ads, but you fear the changeover from your PC. In addition to more advanced courses in digital design and graphic design, Parsons School of Continuing Education offers a class in Mac Basics for PC Users, detailing the differences in operating systems. It should ease your about-face interface.

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