Instead of tossing out that ever growing pile of unread magazines, put them to good use. Collages “transcend the specific materials and create a work greater than the sum of its parts.” Parson’s course in collage (parsons.edu) offers instruction in technique and materials to achieve your goals, whether it’s a birthday card, anonymous threatening letters, or that you simply never tire of making posters of Evan Dando. Kosiya Shalita
Kant argued that one can only judge food aesthetically once one is already full. If that’s the case, it’s a good thing you’ll have access to unlimited frosting while crafting beautiful desserts at the Institute of Culinary Education’s cake and cookie decorating class (212-847-0700, iceculinary.com).
Take a course at New York City Wine Class and never get caught reading the sommelier’s short list upside down again. You’ll learn plenty of fancy adjectives while sampling 40 different wines accompanied by some two dozen cheeses in this “Complete Introduction to Wine and Cheese” (212-647-1875, nycwineclass.com). Classes begin September 13.
Sure, a class in raw-food cooking is an oxymoron, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious. At Natural Gourmet School (212-645-5170, naturalgourmetschool.com), it’s just the thing to keep the kitchen cool this summer. Martin Mulkeen
The Merce Cunningham Studio (212-255-8240, merce.org) offers daily classes that exclusively use the Cunningham technique. It is the space, perched high above quaint Bethune Street, that will first seduce you, but the extensive combinations—emphasizing strength, flexibility, and speed—will keep you coming back. The teachers are amiable and very attentive and always manage to make you feel like a dancer well before you’ve even begun to sweat.
Run, leap, and tumble to Dance New Amsterdam (212-625-8369, dancespace.com) this fall. Besides the usual array of ballet, jazz, and modern classes, artists in residence offer a kinesthetic buffet unlike any other. Featuring Stephen Petronio, Luis Lara Malvacias, Ashleigh Leite, Stefanie Nelson, Ellis Wood, and Christopher Williams, this newly constructed studio near City Hall is the perfect place to sample the downtown scene. Addys Gonzalez
You’re an insufferable bore! Stoke your funny fires with an improvisation class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com). Soon you’ll be freestyling “to the top of your intelligence,” while making “strong clear character choices.”
Talking to yourself a lot lately? Craft that run-on sentence in your head into a knockout performance piece. Get your soliloquy on with a monologue workshop at the Acting Studio (212-580-6600, actingstudio.com). Topics range from choosing a monologue that’s right for you to the big audition. The eight-week class starts September 23.
If you’re like me, your all-purpose funny foreign accent is like a camel race down the silk road: It starts at Mike Myers’s Fat Bastard and ends somewhere in Siberia. Sort out your foreign tongues with a dialect class at New York Strasberg Theatre (212-533-5500, newyork-strasberg.com). Fall classes begin September 18. Martin Mulkeen
Whether enamored of the split screens of The Thomas Crown Affair or the found-footage freak-outs of Peter Tscherkassky, the invaluable Millennium Film Workshop (212-673-0090, millenniumfilm.org) offers guidance in fucking with the frame. Avant luminaries Jennifer Reeves and Su Friedrich offer “Optical Printing,” starting in October.
If Ida Lupino cracking wise is your idea of bliss (as it is mine), sign up for
Columbia’s “Topics in American Cinema: Film Noir” (212-854-1754, ce.
columbia.edu) Film-crit icon (and Village Voice alum) Andrew Sarris helms this sure-to-be seamy, sweaty, and morally compromised class.
You’ve never been the most attractive guy in the room. Sympathetic types tell you to work in radio. NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) has a path to follow. Sign up for “Voiceover Techniques” (begins September 25) and make bank like Morgan Freeman. There are worse careers. R. Emmet Sweeney
Whether you’re an Excel spreadsheet devotee or the kind of person who just waits until the ATM says “none left,” we all gotta budget somehow. If you’re starting a small business or just minding your own, take a budget management course at
Baruch College (646-312-5000, baruched.com). Classes are ongoing.
We can learn very little about death because no one has returned to tell the tale. Taxes, however, are a different story. Take “Individual Federal Income Taxation Planning Techniques” (beginning September 21) at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) and learn from professionals. If you pay close attention you’ll probably learn how to write off the tuition. Martin Mulkeen
The course catalog description for NYU’s “Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution” (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) asks, “How do policymakers resolve major conflicts such as those in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and Cyprus?” More pertinent might be how to avoid violence every time your roommate places empty containers into the refrigerator instead of tossing them out—or what to do when your friend scrapes her teeth against the fork when taking a bite.
Following the release of books like Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes From aCatastrophe and films like An Inconvenient Truth, many scientists’ growing concerns over the environment have been reaching a broader audience. Among these are escalating clashes over resources such as water in the American West, as well as quarrels between farmers and conservationists in the Amazon. “Environmental Conflict: Spats, Disputes, and Wars” at the New School (212-229-5630, newschool.edu) looks at the roles of science and social inequality in understanding these issues. Kosiya Shalita
A new language is a bridge to a different culture. But you’re totally swamped! Take a beginning Japanese course at the Tenri Cultural Institute (212.645.2800, tenri.org), using the text Japanese for Busy People I, and “expand your experience of understanding, harmony, and community in this multicultural, multi-ethnic world.” Class starts August 14.
Italy is the reigning World Cup soccer champion for the next four years, so jump on the bandwagon and make like they were your pick all along. Step one is figuring out what the flag-waving masses are yelling about on TV. Take beginning Italian classes at the
Italian Cultural Institute in New York (212-879-4242, iicnewyork.esteri.it). Classes are ongoing. Martin Mulkeen
If there’s one thing Jazz at Lincoln Center (jalc.org, 212-258-9800) should be praised for, it’s a continued commitment to education. Jazz know-it-all Phil Schaap offers intro classes while trombonist Vincent Gardiner will lay into the bebop period with gusto—and he has the chops to back it up.
If JALC thrives in the past, the
Center for Improvisational Music (212-631-5882, schoolforimprov.org) points to the future. They’re offering intensive summer workshops featuring the best young forward-looking talent in the country. Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, Uri Caine, and many more lend their ears and experience to the classroom.
There are no apprenticeships anymore, so Barry Harris (barryharris.com) is here to help. The legendary pianist, who has played with everyone (seriously), has an ongoing piano workshop that is scheduled around his many tours. There are two in August—so go and get some professional reps with the best. R. Emmet Sweeney
Forget the potted plant in your window and the attempts at cultivating basil indoors. The “Citizen Pruner Tree Care” course at Trees New York (212-227-1887, treesny.com) actually makes you a certified arborist. Step outdoors, shears in hand, and care for the trees on your block.
Nature in this city can make for unpleasant encounters, like walking into the street to avoid stepping between a building and rustling, rat-filled garbage bags, or placing the legs of your bed in mason jars to keep bedbugs from climbing up. “Introduction to Bird-watching” at the Audubon Center in Prospect Park (718-287-3400, prospectparkaudubon.org) is a nice compromise: You’re outside but the danger is minimal. Kosiya Shalita
Are your friends quitting Friendster because they’re bored with the Internet or because they’re just sick of your picture? Keep them clicking with “Photographic Self-Portrait” at the New School (212-229-5630, nsu.newschool.edu). With weekly assignments designed to “strengthen your relationship to your own process,” you’re sure to perfect that spaced-out, sideways gaze. The class starts on September 6 and runs for 15 weeks.
South Philly photographer Zoe Strauss takes her “Under I-95” exhibition up the road to the Whitney (212-570-7715 whitney.org.) on Friday, September 15. Previously featured at this year’s Biennial, Strauss’s regular-people photography will be deconstructed, reproduced, and circulated at the latest installment of the museum’s IPO series—seminars hosted by emerging artists, writers, and curators. Carla Blumenkranz
Religion & Spirituality
The New School’s (212-229-5600, nsu.newschool.edu) decidedly relevant take on “Introduction to Islam” gets through the basics—the life of Muhammad, structure of the Koran, common beliefs and practices— and then moves into dinner party conversation. Topics for the last part of the class include analysis of “women’s issues, the rise of nationalism, and political Islamic movements.” The class runs for 15 Thursdays at 4 p.m. and starts September 7.
Faith’s not always a way to get out of the world—sometimes it’s an inspiration to throw yourself into it. From Joan of Arc to Sojourner Truth, Hildegard of Bingen to Dorothy Day, an epoch-spanning new course at NYU, “Women, Religion, and Social Change” (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu), examines the confluence of spiritual women and activist politics. The class runs for 10 Wednesdays, starting September 20.
Why do we sit? Mostly because it’s awkward to keep standing. But you can sit, really sit, for the first time, at Village Zendo’s “Just Sitting,” (212-340-4656, villagezendo.org) a liturgy-free, come-and-go-as-you-like afternoon of “spacious meditation.” No fees, no strings, no registration—just sitting, every fourth Saturday. Carla Blumenkranz
“Runditioning” atthe Running Center (212-362-3779, therunningcenter.com) combines both style and substance as Coach Mindy teaches you to run like a cheetah. With mobility stretches and balance, strength, and running exercises, Mindy’s patented method will perfect your biomechanics. Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
A hybrid healing heart that combines tai chi, nei kung, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises, “Eternal Spring” at the Tai Chi Chuan Center (212-221-7333, taichichuancenter.org) is easy to learn and remember and claims to change your life for good. A way to improve balance and coordination, increase strength and flexibility, reverse the effects of aging, and generally “work on your weaknesses,” this class seems to have almost all the answers. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30, Wednesdays at 7:30, and Fridays at 6:30.
Before you hit the coral reefs, learn the elements of scuba diving on your own turf. Weekend intensive classes at Village Divers (212-780-0879, villagedivers.com) will get you halfway to certification in just two evenings. First you get a running start in the classroom section, then you take a dive into their conveniently located pool. Class on Saturdays at 6 p.m., pool nights on Sundays at six and Tuesdays at eight. Carla Blumenkranz
Boerum Hill has Paula Fox; Park Slope has Jonathan Safran Foer and Paul Auster. Here’s a chance to represent Carroll Gardens in the South Brooklyn literary scene. The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop (sackettworkshop.com), founded by Julia Fierro in 2002, offers courses in fiction and nonfiction throughout the autumn.
As the basis for the classic film The Red Shoes or Martin McDonagh’s play The Pillowman, myths and legends provide an inexhaustible supply of inspiration. NYU’s “Beauties, Beasts and Enchantments: Writing Fairy Tales” (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu) uses some of the most universal plots—a journey, an ordeal, three wishes—as starting points for writing a fairy tale of your own.
Instead of complaining about how unfunny most sketch comedy is, take a cue from the guys behind the SNL digital films “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” and the Natalie Portman rap parody and DIY. The PIT offers “Intro to Sketch Writing” (thepit-nyc.com, 212-563-7488). The course ends with a reading of your work by professionals. Kosiya Shalita