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ART

Finding a masterpiece at the Met is like seeing a clown at the circus—no revelation. But what exactly is it about a painting that qualifies it as a masterpiece? Technique? Beauty? Resonance? Is the very term masterpiece anachronistic? If so, the Met is full of anachronisms, and NYU‘s “Masterpieces at the Met” class (212-998-7200, nyu.edu) will tour the museum and discuss the elements that make up great paintings. From ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art through the Middle Ages and Renaissance to mannerism, the baroque, neoclassicism, romanticism, realism, and impressionism, this will be a greatest-hits class, but one designed to make you question, or at least realize, your basic assumptions about great art. It starts in the fall and costs $455.

When drawing a life model, how do you translate the three-dimensional shape onto the flat page? And in between your gaze at the model and the marks you make on the paper, there must be a time lag in which memory—and imagination—take over for a split second. The “Portrait and Figure Painting” class at the Bridgeview Art School (718-937-1300, academicart.com) in Long Island City attempts to deal with these issues by encouraging students to analyze the human form from the inside out. This approach gives the image a strong internal structural integrity. The class is open to all abilities, costs $395 and starts October 1.


Now you’ve brushed up on the Old Masters, get wise about what’s going on right now with NYU‘s “The Art Scene” (212-998-7200, nyu.edu). Nothing could be more up-to-date than this class. You’ll visit 57th Street, the galleries of Chelsea, Soho, and Madison Avenue, and artists’ studios, just as the big fall exhibitions are opening. For $455, discover the cultural and economic forces shaping contemporary art in New York. What does the art infrastructure in the city permit, and what does it make difficult? [James Westcott]


COOKING

Tired of watching Lean Cuisine condensate inside your microwave? The French Culinary Institute‘s “La Technique” (888-FCI-CHEF, frenchculinary.com) may be just the class for you. Learn the real meaning of “dress to impress” by mastering the skill of preparing sauces, impress your friends with your new ninja-like chopping skills, or just be impressed with yourself because, after learning the correct methods of food preservation, you can gaze into the microwave at a delectable dish you made all on your own.

You enjoy the tastes of high society, but rather than new or old, you simply qualify for the category of no money? Say goodbye to your pal Carlo Rossi and learn how to choose “Really Great Wines for Under $15” at the Institute of Culinary Education (212-847-0770, iceculinary.com).


Sipping cocktails, you chat with a fabulous prospective mate you’ve just met over an exquisite filet of beef with shallot-red wine sauce you actually prepared with your own two hands. Sound impossible? It’s guaranteed to happen at the Institute of Culinary Education’s “Hands-On Cooking Party!” (212-847-0770, iceculinary.com) on Tuesday, August 12, from 6 to 10:30, for $100: cocktails, dinner, and singles included. Married? Why not try “Couples and Kids” instead? [Lindy Russell]


DANCE

Been a while since you strapped on the old leotard? Broadway Dance Center (212-582-9304, bwydance.com, $160) offers “Absolute Beginner” workshops from September 28 through November 16—perfect for grade-school dropouts and absolute beginners alike. Try your hand—foot?—at ballet, jazz, tap, theater, and hip-hop. If you’ve always wanted to dance, or dance again, here’s your chance—without that embarrassing photo of you in a purple sequined tutu.

Recently spotted: Danny Glover on an infomercial talking about how Pilates helped him during the making of Lethal Weapon 4. Not really sure how much of a sell that is, but if the Color Purple star is willing to recommend this much touted celebrity toner, so are we. It’s $13 a class at Peridance Center (212-505-0886, peridance.com).

Latin Dancing is hot. Period. Give it a try. Learn the basic moves of salsa, rumba, and the cha-cha at NYU‘s “Latin Dancing 101.” There’s no partner required, and you even get to take a field trip to an NYC club. Now go shake it like you got what God gave J.Lo. (212-998-7030, scps.nyu.edu) [Lindy Russell]


DRAMA

Does your observational comedy consist of pointing at someone and saying “He’s fat?” Do you have a 15-minute bit about Ovaltine? Then sign up for NYU‘s “Stand-Up Comedy Workshop” (888-998-7204, scps.nyu.edu). In 10 sessions, you will develop five minutes of material that will put you beyond the world of knock-knock jokes. Impress your peers, be the life of parties, or even become the next Jerry Seinfeld (sports coat, jeans, and sneakers not provided).

Have you ever dreamed of playing a doctor? Have you ever dreamed of playing your twin brother? Have you ever dreamed of playing your twin sister? Have you ever dreamed of playing your twin brother and your twin sister? If the answer is “Of course,” then call TVI Studios and take their “Acting for Soap Opera” class (212-302-1900, tvistudios.com). Staff from top soap operas will teach you the techniques to nail your audition. Awake from that 20-year coma, find your ex-wife, and make those dreams come true.

Give me a location. Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater (212-366-9176, UCBInfo@aol.com). Give me an occupation. Aspiring comic actor. What are we doing? Learning the fundamentals of long-form comedy improvisation and sketch writing, and having a lot of fun in the process. Ready . . . GO! [Jennifer Holmes]


FASHION

Screen printing: This Warholian wonder of DIY fashion hearkens back to the days of puff paint, when any old T-shirt could become magically unique. With FIT‘s “Screen Printing: T-shirts and Related Products” (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu), the smug satisfaction of individualism can be yours again. Fantasy tees will appear with the pull of a squeegee, making your chest your own personal billboard. Finally—make that Stephen Malkmus T-shirt that you’ve always wanted.

Gazing at Dior’s fetishizable evening bag, two questions come to mind: Will gold lamé really be in style that long, and, if not, why should you spend more on this absolutely hideous—yet fabulous—purse than most people do each month on their apartment? Until John Galliano decides that Ziploc makes the hottest bags, spare yourself the money and bad style by trying FIT‘s “Accessory Design” course (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu), where you can learn hands-on techniques for not only handbags, but shoes and belts as well. At $230, the course is about one third the price of a single Dior bag, and you know what they say about teaching a man to fish . . . [Lindy Russell]


FILM

You’re sitting there. You’re sweating. You think, I can’t do this. No, I can. I have to. Maybe if I take a break and come back later, I’ll be refreshed. Yeah, maybe if I do that I’ll make the big bucks. No. I can’t. I’m fat, bald, and untalented. I’ll call the New York Film Academy (212-674-4300, www.nyfa.com). I’ll take their eight-week session in screenplay writing. Yeah, that will make me write a script. I’ll do that right after I get coffee . . . and a muffin.

Have you ever wondered how they got a giant ape to climb the Empire State Building? Do you ponder how they got a green Muppet to do backflips and kick ass? Have you ever wondered how they made Keanu Reeves cool? Well I don’t know, but the guys at NYU‘s “History of Special Effects and the Movies” do (888-998-7204, scps.nyu.edu). By studying past techniques and modern applications, you too can see how far the rabbit hole goes. Whoa.

Do you, like Dawson, have a desire to be the next Steven Spielberg? Would you settle for going to the same film school as Steven Spielberg’s son? Then check out New York Film Academy‘s program in directing (212-674-3400, nyfa.com). You will be given intense hands-on training with ample equipment to make your own student film. It might just be the push you need to get you out of the Creek. [Jennifer Holmes]


FINANCE

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, wait, it’s a gaggle of business suits and glasses and it’s flying my way! It’s the “Captains of Industry”! And they’re headed to the 92nd Street Y (92ndsty.org) to save the financial day! Stephen B. Shepard, the editor in chief of Business Week moderates this lecture series, which boasts appearances by New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former GE chair and CEO Jack Welch, and architect Daniel Libeskind. I wonder who looks the best in tights . . .

My mom stopped letting me purchase Baby-Sitters Club books around the time I started finishing them during the car ride home from the bookstore. It would be years before anyone would dream of allowing me to sit with their kids, but I was prepared. Or so I thought. If Kristy, Claudia, Dawn, Mary Anne, and Stacey could do it, why couldn’t I? Today’s teens have more options. The New Teen Center at the 92nd Street Y (92ndsty.org) offers “Adventures in Babysitting”—not the book or the movie, but a full-fledged course in preparation for the first financial adventure most kids will take.


We’ve all done it. The snottier the sales help, the more we want to buy that salaciously priced bauble. “I’ll show that witch who’s carrying the wallet in this relationship,” I say to myself as I whip out the plastic to pay for whatever it is that I ostensibly need. Healthy? Not at all. Perhaps, for my own good, I should start dropping hints to those tricky salespeople that the New School (newschool.edu) is offering a course called “Contemporary Customer Service Strategies.” Hopefully reverse psychology is not on the syllabus.[Jennifer Snow]


INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

Philosopher R.P. Wolff famously canned it in In Defense of Anarchism, but democracy remains the global polity of choice. As Bush and organizations like the World Bank seek to democratize the world in the face of results as diverse as South Africa and Haiti, it’s time to examine the effects of this cause. Try NYU‘s “The Developing World: Struggle for Democracy” (212-998-7030, scps.nyu.edu). Whether you marched through the streets shouting “No blood for oil” or shouted at the marchers, “The Geopolitics of Oil: An Examination of the Persian Gulf” at NYU (212-998-7030, scps.nyu.edu) is a must for anyone who wants to keep informed or active in discussions of current issues.


Whether you marched through the streets shouting “No blood for oil” or shouted at the marchers, “The Geopolitics of Oil: An Examination of the Persian Gulf” at NYU (212-998-7030, scps.nyu.edu) is a must for anyone who wants to keep informed or active in discussions of current issues. [Lindy Russell]


LANGUAGE

Plan on traveling soon, but the only thing you know how to say in a foreign language is “Do you speak English?” Manhattan Language (212-683-5442, manhattanlanguage.com) offers 45-minute private lessons at $35 a pop. German, Russian, Japanese, or any Romance language—customized to your skill level and schedule: You can even meet daily if necessary, to ensure that the next thing you’ll be saying is “Bon voyage!”

Nowhere is globalization as apparent as on the streets of New York. Now you can learn to talk to anyone in any neighborhood in the city. Columbia’s School of Continuing Education (212-854-9699, ce.columbia.edu) offers a global array of language instruction: from Hindi to Hebrew to Hungarian. Noncredit classes are $1,250 per course.


According to the recent census, nearly half of New York’s homes are bilingual. If you fall in the other half, NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ Center for Foreign Languages and Translation (212-998-7030, scps.nyu.edu) offers an astonishing variety of courses from the language the census verified to be increasingly useful, Spanish, to the still somehow useful but dead Latin, for all skill levels. Already bilingual? Earn your certificate in translation and get a new job in what may be the only market that’s still growing.
[Lindy Russell]


MUSIC

The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center (212-799-5000, juilliard.edu) isn’t as elitist and inaccessible as you might think. There’s a range of noncredit evening classes offered in the fall at persuasive prices. The “Music Orientation” class is an essential primer for the student of classical music. It teaches you how to “listen better” by demystifying the techniques, concepts, and esoteric vocabulary of the genre. In addition to classes on the classical concerto and Beethoven’s string quartets, more modern topics are on offer, like “The Great Duke Ellington” and “Music and the Movies.” Classes start early in September and last the entire semester. They cost between $250 and $410.


Who wouldn’t want to be able to scat, given the opportunity to learn? At NYU‘s (212-998-7200, nyu.edu) “All That Jazz . . . Singing Workshop,” you’ll be taught how to choose the right repertoire, transpose songs into your key, arrange your own songs, and, of course, to improvise. The class is taught through rigorous structured exercises but also gives you the chance to prepare your own “lead sheets” and hone your ability to lead the band. To sign up for the class you’ll need $470.


If you can lock down a fairly good rhythm by yourself already, the Percussion Ensemble at the Bloomingdale School of Music (212-663-6021, bsmny.org) will teach you how to vibe with others. Using a vast array of drums, bongos, marimbas, and strange things that clatter and thump, the ensemble rehearses intensively and performs works written specifically for the medium. There’s also the chance to make your own arrangements and to improvise. The course lasts 17 weeks, starts in the fall, and costs $200. [James Westcott]


NATURE

I am not a picky eater. I love adventurous food. But ask me to try something I found on the ground in Central Park, and I may draw the line. Ask me to follow Wildman Steve Brill (wildmanstevebrill.com) around Central Park, Prospect Park, and Cunningham Park in Hollis, Queens, however, and I’ll be first in line. Wild pink lemonade brewed with smooth sumac? Common spicebush? Hen-of-the-woods and chicken mushrooms? For his walking tours, I’m game.

I have a rooftop garden to die for. The plants, however, have gone and died too. I have a hankering to sign up my building’s maintenance people for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden‘s “Urban Garden Maintenance” (bbg.org), which will cover tools, techniques, transplanting, trees, and turf. I’d like to take it too. I wonder if my landlord will pay . . .


I once had a pet bird. My sister found it as it was clawing at our screen door. Some fastidious research revealed that our new friend was a nandy conure. No one answered the “found” ad that we placed in the local paper, so we had a new pet. He didn’t squawk, he screamed. A lot. We set him free. The New York City Audubon Society (nycas.org/activities/) makes the migration of birds sound magical. They say that we are in the perfect spot to observe the “spectacle of migrating songbirds and shorebirds.” So long as they don’t migrate to my doorstep, we’re fine. [Jennifer Snow]


PHOTOGRAPHY

We all know the camera lies all the time. Now, with Photoshop, the camera tells even bigger lies. But the better you are at Photoshop the more convincing your composite or cleaned-up images will be. You already know the basic vocabulary of Photoshop-ese; now start singing with “Digital Imaging and Photography” at NYU‘s Center for Advanced Digital Applications (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). It starts in the fall semester and costs $955.

Taking photographs of people can be intrusive and feel voyeuristic. Few like having a camera poked in their face. So how does a photographer gain the access to people and then earn their trust? “Getting Close,” a class at the International Center of Photography (212-857-0001, icp.org), teaches how to break the fear of photographing and being photographed. Through discussions and lectures, the class also teaches how to distill the complexities of a time, a situation, and a person into a telling photograph. The class costs $425 and starts August 9.

Street photography is one of the oldest genres of photography and maybe its most obvious and fitting application. You just pick up your camera, pound the streets, and seek out the Decisive Moment. Street photography makes mundane things profound—freezing accidental moments of beauty in time forever. There are ways to sharpen your intuition and refine your technique, and NYU‘s (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) “Street Photography” class can help. It costs $430 and starts in the fall. [James Westcott]


RELIGION

The religious right and U.S. foreign policy are not, contrary to popular belief, part of a headline clipped from today’s newspaper. But, the religious right’s regular appearance on the front-page radar deems it perhaps necessary to take a look at “The Role of Religion in Social Change” at NYU (scps.nyu.edu).

“Does Judaism have more than chicken soup to offer when someone becomes sick?” you wonder. Stop kvetching and look to both tradition and Torah with Rabbi Stephanie Dickstein (of the New York Jewish Healing Center) in “An Introduction to Jewish Healing” at the 92nd Street Y (92ndsty.com).

Use your garden, or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, to cure what ails you. The garden’s education center (bbg.org) is offering a whirlwind tour of herbal infusions for health and home in “Spirit Plants: Ethnobotany of the Americas,” a six-session course on identifying, gathering, and using herbs as in the Taino, Aztec, Maya, and Lenape traditions. [Jennifer Snow]


SPORTS

“I float through the air with the greatest of ease/I fall on my . . . ” Wait! I’m not falling. I’m flying! Me, the girl of no particular physical aptitude, flying high above Lower Manhattan?! Wheeeeeeee! From April through November, Trapeze School New York (trapezeschool.com) offers comprehensive two-hour lessons in swinging and soaring above the skyline for all ages and skill levels for only $45 to $65.

“Cardio Striptease” and “Whipped Domination” got you down? No puppy to join you in the downward dog poses of “Ruff Yoga”? Crunch Fitness (crunch.com) has joined forces with Joyce Gold History Tours of New York to offer Cultural Conditioning, a whirlwind series that integrates walking tours and workouts in an outdoor interval training class combining cardiovascular exercise with on-site history lessons in and around Central Park, Greenwich Village, and Wall Street.

The Bhava Yoga Center (bhavayoga.com) is a gem. A tiny gem, but a gem. I’m wary to share its wonders with the world, lest my class get too crowded. But in the name of Zen, I must. Operating out of the Sixth Street Community Center, Bhava offers reasonably priced vinyasa yoga for the masses. There are open-level sessions nearly every day from 8 to 8, and a wondrous four-week cycle of basic classes as well. Sunday-night meditation is free and open to all. [Jennifer Snow]


WRITING

There you are sitting at the end of a bar, eyeing the blond in the third seat from the right. You take a swig of your rum and move in. She’s reading. Your opening is at hand: “What are you . . . ?” No—too general. You want to sound smart. “Who are you . . . ” Wait. “Whom are you . . . ” Blast! Steeped in a fog of possessives, plurals, and semicolons, you finally manage to look up—only to see that she is gone. The possible love of your life has closed the parentheses of opportunity on your future. You think to yourself: If only I had gone to “The Writing Basic: A Refresher Workshop” at NYU (888-998-7204, scps.nyu.edu). Another swig of rum numbs the pain of another opportunity lost to bad grammar.

He had spent days on the task. His fingers had gripped the pen until they were red and splotched with the stamp of his ideas. Now the product shook with his hand as he made his way down the narrow hallway to the classroom. Today was judgment day. Today he would be subjected to the “Booth,” the ultimate in all criticism techniques. What lay ahead could not be certain, but he was in Gotham Writers’ Workshop‘s (gothamwritersworkshop.com) “Novel Writing Class” and he had been amply prepared for this moment. He could only be certain of one thing; the path ahead would be fruitful. He turned the knob of the classroom door and marched toward his fate.


Tired of putting endless hours into your writing only to see manuscripts end up as doorstops? Longing to see your byline in print? NYU’s “Freelancing for the Novice Writer” (888-998-7204, scps.nyu.edu) will lead you along the path to recognition. In six sessions you will navigate the pitfalls and pleasures of the industry and walk out with at least one finished piece and a plan to publish it. Wouldn’t you rather be reading your own article in the Voice right now? [Jennifer Holmes]

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