OK, grasp the glass gently by the stem. Now swirl it around and sniff three times. All right, now take a sip, but make sure to keep your mouth slightly open. Hmm. There seems to be wine all over your shirt. Perhaps you should attend “Introduction to Wine,” held by NYC Wine Class (212-647-1875, nycwineclass.com) on Wednesdays starting May 19.
It’s a common misperception that vegans don’t like food—a misperception that may have something to do with the leaden rice dishes they sometimes consume. The discriminating dairy-free sweet tooth does exist, though, and she sure as hell isn’t eating Rice Dream. Learn the art of no-milk, no-eggs dessert making in “Chocolate Mania” at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School (212-645-5170, naturalgourmetschool.com). In one session on April 19, you’ll learn how to bake cakes, cookies, even chocolate hazelnut cream napoleons.
Don’t know your jin foo pei guen from your waw teep? The New School‘s Culinary Arts Center (212-255-4141, nsu.newschool.edu) will show you the difference between the delicacies and teach you how to make them in “Chinese Dumplings and Other Dim Sum,” taught in one session on April 29. [Izzy Grinspan]
The Maimouna Keita School of African Dance offers a freestyle discourse on pure movement on Monday nights with choreographer Ronald K. Brown (718-399-7867, maimounakeita.com). The $12 class starts off with a low-impact warm-up, followed by Brown’s unique movement vocabulary, which fuses modern, hip-hop, and African dance steps.
From the Senegalese dance tradition comes sabar, a highly invigorating rhythm that calls for hopping and leaping, coupled with wild, juxtaposing arms. Led by Babacar M’baye, this $16 two-hour class is offered Saturday nights at Djoniba Dance and Drum Center (212-477-3464, djoniba.com). A troupe of live drummers keep the movements and the spirits of dancers high.
For a communal, free-spirited experience, consider the Contact Improvisation Jam (718-768-3492, groups. yahoo.com/group/contactnyc). There are no teachers, only students of movement who improvise at their own pace. The three-hour session will have you rolling, climbing, and connecting with one, two, or even three other bodies. At $5, the jam is both affordable and rewarding. [Monica Levette Clark]
Your high school drama teacher may still be talking about your legendary turn as Ado Annie or Sky Masterson, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush up your act. NYU‘s “Musical Theatre Performance” class (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) focuses on the “performance tools” you’ll need to make it on Broadway—aside from a few mildly memorable TV credits and the ability to refrain from rolling your eyes when belting out Tim Rice lyrics. You’re on your own there.
You may never be paid for voicing your own opinions, but if you have a sonorous (or irritating) voice, own or can borrow a cassette recorder, and don’t mind a little anonymity, you can make a solid living voicing the opinions of others. Practice “Voiceover Techniques,” including reading commercial copy with enthusiasm, relaxing during auditions, and of course, networking, in NYU‘s course (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) for beginners and pros alike.
Long-form improv—all the cool kids are doing it. If you’re sick of listening to your performer friends babble about “finding the game” and “playing the truth of the moment,” why not take a class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (212-366-9176, ucbtheater.com) and see what all the fuss is about? Find out just how high the top of your intelligence really is—or just be thankful you’re onstage instead of in the audience. [Mollie Wilson]
So your mom knits, your grandma knits, your roommates knit, and the other day your little brother made you a woollyn hat with a pom-pom. Feeling left out? Too embarrassed to ask for help? Don dark glasses and head over to F.I.T. (212-217-7999, fitnyc.suny.edu) for “Knitting for Pleasure,” beginning April 15. If you get a good start now, you’ll be able to surprise all of your loved ones with lumpy sweaters next holiday season.
I like to pretend that I’m a seamstress because I can reattach buttons to my coat, but every so often I come across someone in a handmade dress and recognize the tyro that I am. Leave amateurhood behind in “Learn to Sew Like a Pro” at F.I.T. (212-217-7999, fitnyc.suny.edu), where you’ll use the school’s own machines to make “a pajama-style bottom” in “long, cropped, or Capri” style.
F.I.T.‘s museum has gowns by the houses of Chanel and Dior. “The Great Designers” (212-217-7999, fitnyc.suny.edu) lets students get close to the collections, teaching them about the art of fashion through seminar classes and encounters with the frocks themselves. The class runs for three Wednesdays, starting April 21; don’t forget to wash your hands before you get there. [Izzy Grinspan]
DV Dojo (212-477-2299, dvdojo.com) is dedicated to democratizing media by giving would-be directors access to inexpensive equipment. The Dojo also offers classes for aspiring filmmakers. “Digital Filmmaking,” starting April 19, will teach you about DV shooting and editing. Once you’re done, rent a camera for cheap and let loose your inner von Trier.
Dude, have you ever noticed that Times Square looks like something straight out of Blade Runner? Whoa. If the freaky prescience of Philip K. Dick blows your mind, you might want to check out “Dystopian Cinema” at NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) every Tuesday starting May 25. Watch classics of the genre, including Alphaville, Fahrenheit 451, Mad Max, and Rollerball (presumably not the L.L. Cool J remake).
Sofia Coppola is the second Coppola to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar. She’s also the third woman. What gives? Why are there so many more women in front of the camera than behind it? And what does “to-be-looked-at-ness” mean, anyway? Learn all about the complex role of women in film at NYU‘s “Women in the Cinema” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu), which explores the theory and practice of the fair sex in film. [Izzy Grinspan]
Getting rich relatively quick, with relatively little effort, is the real American dream. But in these uncertain times, is there a foolproof method for playing the market with your money? Absolutely, according to Chandan Sengupta, author of The Only Proven Road to Investment Success, who will offer tips on “Winning the Loser’s Game of Investing” at the 92nd St Y (212.415.5500, 92y.org). Just don’t tell your friends what you learn!
The current economy isn’t exactly encouraging, but if you’ve always dreamed of being your own boss, NYU‘s “Starting Your Own Business on a Shoestring” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) could help make it happen. According to the course description, anybody with ample entrepreneurial spirit, a little capital, and a lot of know-how can turn a dream into a lucrative reality. You have to admit, your name does sound better when you add “founder and CEO.”
When you’re a freelancer, every pre-tax penny counts, and according to the New School (800-319-4321, nsu.newschool.edu), you may be giving away more than the law requires. Take the one-night course “Tax Tips for Free-Lance Writers, Photographers, and Artists” to learn some (legal) corner-cutting strategies before you get started on next year’s return. Imagine how much ramen you could buy with the money you’ll save! [Mollie Wilson]
Perhaps, as Billy Joel observed, we didn’t start the fire, but that doesn’t excuse us from learning diplomatic lessons from history. NYU‘s “International Relations in the Post-World War II Era” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) will examine world politics since we got out of the WW II frying pan, covering fun topics like the Cold War, the Vietnam War, South American upheaval, and the many Middle Eastern crises that got us into our current mess.
Whether you’re starting a job overseas or simply lost in Chinatown, your success depends on knowing how to communicate with the locals. Students in Baruch College‘s “Cross-Cultural Awareness in the 21st Century” (646-312-5000, caps.baruch.cuny.edu) will study the origins and customs of major world cultures, then go out and practice interacting with foreigners socially and professionally. Remember, they’re just as afraid of you as you are of them.
Museums divide works of art into distinct galleries and wings based on provenance, but in real life the boundaries aren’t always so clear. NYU‘s “Art Across Cultures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) examines the relationships between the many different cultures whose great artistic works are now housed in one big building on the edge of Central Park. For example: The Temple of Dendur used to be in Egypt, covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics, but now it’s in New York City, covered in English-language graffiti. Funny how things change. [Mollie Wilson]
Ever dream of riding gondolas in Venice? Would you also like to be able to ask for a gondola ride in Italian without turning as red as marinara? Take NYU‘s “Italian for Beginners” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) and gain a basic knowledge of the musical language.
Whether you have to land that big, important client in Tokyo or were just really into Lost in Translation, NYU‘s “Three-Week Intensive Japanese I & II” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) will give you the language skills to get the job done. Classes run June 14 through July 2.
Go beyond the standard offerings and go eastward to Eastern Europe. Columbia‘s “Intensive Elementary Hungarian” (212-854-9699, columbia.edu) will teach the basics of grammar and vocab, giving you a practical command of the language. [Jennifer Holmes]
Looking to make music that’s a bit less formulaic than Britney’s and Christina’s? Express your own unique voice and experiment at the School for Improvisational Music (212-631-5882, schoolforimprov.org). Their intensive workshop runs May 15 through 23 and costs $400. Application deadline is April 17.
I know that you have a guitar gathering dust in your apartment. Musika (212-614-6800, musikalessons.com) will give you one-on-one instruction to get you playing that instrument without the embarrassment of admitting how long ago you bought it.
Thought that the accordion was just for dorky old men in bow ties? Well Carmen Carrozza, classical accordion master at the Northern Westchester Music School (914-962-7222, petosa.com/carrozza), will show you that the accordion can be cool. Get your polka on! [Jennifer Holmes]
Forget Atkins. At the Bronx Zoo‘s “Zootrition” (800-937-5131, bronxzoo.com) staff members will teach you how they tailor diets for even the pickiest members of the animal kingdom. The class is on April 18 and costs $30. Participants under 16 not admitted.
Do you ever worry that animals in captivity aren’t happy? Put your mind at ease at “Behavioral Enrichment” at the New York Aquarium (718-265-3448, nyaquarium.com). Senior trainer Martha Hiatt will teach you how she uses a variety of techniques and tools to enrich the lives of the animals. The class is on June 19 and costs $25.
Learn various methods for successfully preserving your own flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden‘s “Preserving Flowers and Foliage” (718-623-7220, bbg.org). You’ll also get to exercise your inner, non-incarcerated Martha Stewart with in-class projects including making pressed-flower note paper and a wall hanging. The class is on April 18, and costs $77. [Jennifer Holmes]
“So You Got a Digital Camera: Now What?” Yeah, now what? This aptly named NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) class will help you decode the difference between your JPEGs, TIFFs, and RAW files; school you on the finer points of buffering, burst mode, and white balancing; and demystify the magic behind transferring those images from that tiny little memory card onto your hard drive.
“Blocked”? Work through your artistic obstacles in this advanced International Center of Photography class (212-857-0001, icp.org) designed to support and exhume the opportunities that lie in your dormant portfolio or desk drawer. Art therapy for the photographer and photography student, if you will.
My dream assignment: to be forced to shoot one roll of film a day for 30 days. A sublime diary, I think—with nary a word. ICP‘s “A Roll a Day—the Photojournal” allows for a reflection possible only through the close examination and consultation of seeing your day played out in tiny contact-sheet rectangles. It gives a whole new meaning to page-a-day calendars too. [Jennifer Snow]
RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY
Catherine Ingram gives a four-day workshop based on her book Passionate Presence (212-334-5212, sufibooks.com). These conversations take place in the tradition of parables, and Q&As that “effortlessly lead to present awareness.” Sit, talk, and be here now, er, um . . . be there then—let your “such-ness” and “is-ness” get down to bid-ness! Cost: $10.
Leonard Cohen, a folk-pop legend born of the Jewish faith, is now a Buddhist. Like the archetypal trickster, he spins slippery yet wise yarns about God, love, the spirit, the will—and women! True troubadours have always cloaked their love songs as songs for God. Makor‘s two-hour class “Leonard Cohen: Love the Stranger as Yourself” (212-601-1000, 92y.org), beginning April 29, explores his work for four sessions. Cost: $60
A rare visit from one of the biggest names in qigong and Taoist health: Master Chia is famous not only for his refinement of the ancient Taoist arts, but also for his understanding of modern medicine. The Joyous Life Energy Center (212-352-9910, healingtaonyc.com) offers two seminars. “Tao Basics,” focuses on healing; “Fusion of the Five Elements I & II” deals with specific energy work promoting compassion. [David Shawn Bosler]
Kick it old-school-style: Crunch‘s dodgeball class (crunch.com) is sure not only to resurrect the fear of being picked last, but to prove that recess just may be the solution to all of the workday’s little evils. Those without a gym membership, or those just looking for a refresher crash course of sorts, can join in the fun at the Dodgeball Tournament of Champions II (April 17, Martin Luther King High School, dodgeballchampions.com).
Ah, archery. A surprisingly gentle sport. A sport notably devoid of sweat. A sport I learned to love in summer camp, while avoiding dodgeball’s evil stare! Big Apple Archery Lanes and Queens Archery Supplies (718-461-1756, archery-nyc.com) offers a free lesson for first-timers with the $16 rental program (all the equipment you need for an hour of shooting time); probably a good idea before graduating into the popular Open Shooting option.
The view at your yoga class got you down? Sun salutations as they were meant to be: on the sundecks of the piers along the Hudson—at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers (chelseapiers.com). “Sunset Soul 2 Soul Partner Yoga” sounds divinely romantic, and “Sunset Mega Spin” gives new meaning to “rolling on the river.” “Quicksand,” an aerobic/anaerobic interval-training class, allows you to get sand between your toes on the indoor volleyball court—the perfect excuse for a pedicure. [Jennifer Snow]
Every time I buy a new box of crayons, the primary colors are worn down to broken stubs within weeks, while Spring Green and Burnt Sienna stand tall and neglected. Learn to make the whole 64 work for you in the medium of your choice with Cooper Union‘s “Color in Action: From Chartreuse to Sienna and Back Again” (212-353-4195, cooper.edu/ce), which focuses on how color can “excite us or deceive us.” (You can trust Aquamarine, but watch out for Blue-Green, that lying bastard.)
I doubt if even the ritziest summer camps include “Chinese Brush Painting” in their arts-and-crafts instruction. This course at the New York Botanical Garden (718-817-8747, nybg.org/edu) offers beginners and pros an opportunity to learn the finer points of this oriental illustration technique, using bamboo brushes to execute rice-paper representations of the Garden’s many flowers, butterflies, and birds. Your work will be harder to create but easier to love than any macaroni necklace.
As any snickering fifth-grader on a field trip will attest, there’s plenty of bare flesh on view at the Metropolitan Museum. Indulge your inner grade-schooler by enrolling in NYU‘s “Eternal Inspiration: The Nude in Western Art” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu), which covers the major nudie pictures of the Western tradition, starting in ancient Greece and continuing on up through Manet, Picasso, and Velázquez’s The Toilet of Venus. (Heh heh. You said “toilet.”)
When you moved to the city, you swore you’d take advantage of the trendy galleries, but you still haven’t made it to a single show. Whether you’re intimidated by the snooty staffers or simply haven’t found the time, consider the Parsons course “Art in Chelsea” (212-229-5690, www.parsons.edu) as a starting point. Soon you’ll be flitting about with all your culture-soaked friends. [Mollie Wilson]
Are Kavalier and Clay your personal heroes? Do you look up to R. Crumb? Heck, even if you just think Wolverine is cool, you should check out “Writing Comics and Graphic Novels” at NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu). This four-week class meets Wednesdays starting May 26. Each student is guaranteed to come out at the end with a complete comics script.
“This is not a course for people looking to score free trips or work their way onto the travel junket circuit,” warns Mediabistro’s website (212-929-2588, mediabistro.com) in its description of “Travel-Writing Boot Camp.” Too bad—but this class will whip your travel writing into shape, leaving you with a portfolio of at least six publishable articles. The instructor is rumored to be so good that he’s inspired a cult following among former students.
The Gotham Writing Workshop (212-974-8377, writingclasses.com) says nonfiction writing is a “fast-growing” world, which confuses me—haven’t people been writing nonfiction for sort of a while now? Regardless, GWW’s “Nonfiction Writing I” will teach you everything you need to know to produce sparkling prose, master different styles, and hone your voice. The course is taught in three different 10-week workshops beginning April 15, 17, or 20. [Izzy Grinspan]