• • • 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; 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;, 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) 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 for info on classes and jams. —Anya Kamenetz

• • •

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;, 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” ( 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;, 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” (, 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 (, 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” ( 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

• • • film

For the past week your kitchen has been full of pie tin flying saucers and ketchup blood, and you forced your own mother to hold up the Super-8 camera while you dragged your G.I. Joes across the linoleum floor. There’s a little more to it than that. The New School’s “Independent Filmmaking from A to Z” ( gives you the ins and outs of everything you need to know, from directing to producing, and yes, even how to make a masterpiece with a low budget. Course begins September 18. Cost: $425.

If you’re serious about breaking into the biz, get it all through the Digital Film Academy‘s 14-week course (333-4013). They’re the only school that starts you off writing your own screenplay, which they’ll copyright. Then you’ll move into directing, complete with live talent. On top of that you’ll get 24-7 unlimited lab time and master three editing forms; when your movie’s complete, they’ll teach you Web streaming and DVD authoring.

TV sucks, but you can change that. DV Dojo (477-2299; favors revolutionizing video. Whether you’re ready to dive into a career in digital video, or want to start with night classes, this Lower East Side school has a variety of workshops to fit your schedule, as well as regular screenings. You’ll make several beginning projects in the five-week, full-time course, which begins on September 3 or October 7. Get the lowdown on shooting and editing as well as broadcasting and film festivals in the eight-week evening course, which begins on September 2. —Ariston Anderson

• • • finance

Get started in the sizzling-hot creative bookkeeping field now with “Fundamentals of Accounting” at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (998-7080;, Monday evenings from September 23 to November 25. Tighten your belt, though, ‘cause this prerequisite for more advanced courses costs $655—shredder not included.

The six-hour “One-Day MBA Workshop: Practical Knowledge It Takes Years to Learn in Biz School” at the Learning Annex (; 371-0280)
on August 24 runs $124. Learning good business planning from a CEO who’s made good by. . . teaching folks good business planning sounds. . . good, but the
circularity’s distracting; Dale Carnegie, eat your heart out.

Leave it to Borough of Manhattan Community College (220-8350; to give it to you under budget during these grizzly-market times: “The ABC’s of Investing” has two-day sections for $50—that’s four AOL shares plus change—beginning in October, surveying basic investment outlets plus education and retirement finance. —E. McMurtrie

• • • international study

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. So why not try Vietnam, South Africa, or Nicaragua? The School for International Training (888-272-7881; specializes in semester-long study-abroad programs like “Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society in Nicaragua.”

International studies heavyweight Columbia University gives select non-degree students the opportunity to take such courses as “Politics and Society of Pakistan’’ and “Human Rights in Post-Soviet Eurasia’’ through its Continuing Education and Special Programs division. (854-9699;

If you aren’t the type who could spend a semester unravelling the intricacies of Uzbek monetary policy, try the smorgasbord at the 92nd Street Y (415-5500; “Great Decisions 2002,” a foreign affairs colloquium that shifts its focus for each of eight weekly sessions. —Danial Adkison

• • • language

Voulez-vous parler avec moi? At the French Institute/Alliance Française (355-6100;, serious classes at several levels of difficulty and intensity will have you pronouncing the wine list in no time. Registration for the fall term begins September 17. (Cost: $400)

NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (998-7080; offers three-week intensives for $995 in standard Arabic, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish; you study in the classroom and practice on field trips to ethnic neighborhoods. They teach over 25 languages, in a broad range of schedules and formats.

The Lexington School for the Deaf/Center for the Deaf in Queens (718-899-8800; teaches American Sign Language classes, two hours a week, to the general public as well as staff and parents of Lexington students. Register early for the $120 nine-week session. —Anya Kamenetz

• • • music

Picking up where 1970s matchbook covers left off, Hunter College (772-4490) will help you turn your poems into songs. Their lyric-writing course, through the Music Department, promises to help hone your heartfelt verse into commercial product and to help composers learn to work with lyricists.

The New School (229-5600) doesn’t just offer instrument instruction and appreciation courses (Al Jolson, Bob Dylan, and a reggae primer), but will make you an audio engineer as well. A five-course sequence covers the nuts and bolts of engineering, using Pro Tools, producing pop and hip-hop, and an internship.

If a percussion orchestra at your fingertips is what you’re after, tabla master Samir Chatterjee offers classes at Lotus Music & Dance (718-335-3465) in the small Indian drums that can make you sound like you’re hearing a trumpet here, a cat there—the high-speed patterns behind traditional ragas. —Kurt Gottschalk

• • • nature

If you think New York would be the worst place to study botany, than you’ve never been to the New York Botanical Garden. Offering over 750 courses, the garden has been teaching the ways of plants for over 70 years. With “Great Women in the Garden” (September 8, $35) you’ll learn the secrets of the world’s greatest female horticulturists. In “Plants That Changed History” (September 14, $35) you’ll discover how plants have radically altered commerce, medicine, and even stories of love and war. Visit or call 718-817-8747.

The average American uses more than twice the amount of land resources than the average European. Fortunately there is Vermont’s Institute for Social Ecology (802-454-8493;, an independent institution for activists. “Ecological Land Use” explores organic agriculture and permaculture with the goal of creating a self-sustaining community. Don’t let the “free society” fool you, though. The programs carry university-sized fees ($8900 for the fall semester), so look into their financial aid packages.

Strengthen your gardening skills while adding a little color to your neighborhood. Since 1978, GreenThumb (788-8070) has transformed vacant land into community spaces. It is the nation’s largest urban gardening program, with over 650 groups in all five boroughs. GreenThumb provides resources, materials, and seasonal workshops to jump-start groups and individuals. —Ariston Anderson

• • • photo

Somewhere between your old Instamatic and the age of digital was the Poloroid era. The International Center of Photography (857-0001) offers a weekend course in October on the creative use of Polaroid materials. Previous coursework at the center, or a portfolio review, is required.

Is there anything better to catch in a shutter than New York? The city loves to be photographed, and a nine-session course at the New School (229-5600) will use the city as its model, looking for patterns, colors, and shapes in field trips from the river to the parks.

And if New York is the place, the last year has certainly been the time. The School of Visual Arts (592-2000) offers instruction to budding documentarians in “Photography on Assignment: Witness to Our Times.” The class covers researching subjects, building a portfolio, and aspects of working in the publishing world. —Kurt Gottschalk

• • • religion

The Tibetan Studies Program at Professor Robert Thurman’s Tibet House ( offers meditation instruction, courses based on the Dalai Lama’s teachings, and a variety of lectures on dharma East and West. Call the New York Open Center to register at 219-2527. Cost: $20 per session.

Evening classes at the New York Kollel (Hebrew for “community”) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (674-5300, ext. 272; cover fundamentals—liturgy, history, theology, major Jewish texts in a “transdenominational, pluralistic, egalitarian environment.” Ask about their comprehensive Mechinah program. Cost: $160 for a five-week class.

The international Theosophical Society (753-3835;, founded in New York in 1875, sponsors study of various aspects of the universal “Wisdom Tradition” through their Quest Bookshop (758-5521) in midtown. Discover the fundamental unity of existence, as revealed through various religions and ancient wisdom. —Anya Kamenetz

• • • sports

David Lee Roth recently disclosed a yen for kendo, the sport of Japanese fencing. Intrigued? The New York City Kendo Club (874-6161) holds beginners sessions Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you adopt the Way of the Sword, regular practice is $80 per month—cheaper than Van Halen reunion tix.

Sailing lessons from friends or loved ones can entail plenty o’ cussing. The nonprofit New York City Community Sailing Association (Port Imperial Marina, Weehawken, New Jersey; takes lubbers on gentle three-hour “Introduction to Sailing” jaunts for 30 clams; a $300 “Basic Keelboat” course advances you toward ASA certification. Remember: The icebergs are melting.

World Cup fever’s fine on TV, but your own fifth-grade soccer skills need upgrading. The Field House at Chelsea Piers (336-6500; hosts adult league play for skill levels (like “over 30”) this fall; registration starts August 26, and the season’s $200 per head. —E. McMurtrie

• • •

Looking to receive expertise in a less formal, yet productive environment? Louis Reyes Rivera (, author and co-editor of Bum Rush the Page, gives an all-inclusive workshop at Sistas’ Place in Brooklyn starting September 1. Contributions are accepted in lieu of an enrollment fee!

Do you feel you didn’t get that perfect promotion due to your hang-ups with assertiveness? If so, you don’t need counseling to pinpoint your issuesjust attend Ken Wydro’s “Write Yourself” at the Harlem Institute for Higher Learning (280-1045), starting October 9. Cost: $125

It’s time for a lot of us closet writers to put down the latest Anne Rice book and get to work on our own. Do it at Pace University’s “Introduction to Creative Writing” (346-1244;, starting October 14. This course will utilize exciting methods like visual imagery and aromatics. Students will develop their talent through memoirs, short stories, and journals. Cost: $265.
—Celeste Doaks