Education Listings, Winter 2007/2008



According to a recent study, frequent meditators can shift their brain function from the stress-addled right frontal cortex to the chilled-out left frontal cortex. New York doesn’t seem an ideal milieu in which to practice this art, but who needs to relax more than New Yorkers? The frazzled might consider taking The Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Techniques at the Jewish Community Center, a primer in sitting and walking meditation.

Winter is typically a time of freezing exter-iors, overheated interiors, and the resulting scratchy throats, runny noses, and watery eyes. But the New York Open Center suggests you can Winterize Yourself: Build Immunity, Vitality, and Joy. Tonic herbs, essential oils, and massage feature. Letha Hadaday, the author of several books (including Feed Your Tiger, which we’re assuming is a metaphor) as well as an expert in alternative medicine, will lead the workshop.

Sting has revised his claim that he and his angular wife Trudie Styler have tantric sex for six hours straight. He now admits that those six hours may well include “dinner, a movie, and maybe a lot of begging!”, but for those still curious about the ancient practice, the New York Open Center will host a weekend workshop, entitled
Timeless Loving: The Path to Ecstasy, hosted by husband-and-wife instructors. They promise to help us “discover how to integrate ecstatic spirituality into our lovemaking and everyday activities, improve intimate communication skills, and come closer to others.”

Babies usually strike us as pretty relaxed—well, the babies that aren’t screaming their heads off—but the 92nd Street Y nevertheless offers its popular classes for parents in the art of Baby Massage—Parents and Babies.Apparently, by releasing lovely oxytocin and endorphins, infant massage can relieve the symptoms of teething and colic. I’m not teething much these days, but I want one!


For anyone who’s ever thought, if only for a moment, of breaking into some of those pretty glass cases at the Met and making off with some of those precious ornaments (guilty!), the Fashion Institute of Technology offers a far less criminal option. Students can learn to make their own priceless heirlooms by attending Collectible Jewelry I and learning “European techniques of knotting, weaving, and stringing with pearls, crystals, and semiprecious stones.”

Chain mail has been used as a military accou-trement for nearly 2,000 years. And it is now apparently being used as a fashion accessory. At Artez’n in Brooklyn, Stephanie Maslow-Blackman of Metalicious will lead a workshop in Zen and the Art of Chainmail, where she’ll teach students to create a byzantine flower chain and a three-in-three chain, to be worn as bracelets. Tough bracelets.

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, we’re told, so you should keep yours busy—and warm—over the winter months. You might consider the Brooklyn General Store’s Fair Isle Mitten Workshop, a four-class session that teaches experienced knitters the basics of Fair Isle knitting, also apparently known as “stranded colorwork.” Fair ye well.


Comedy is famously all in the timing, but who has time to take a course and learn this timing thing? Luckily, the Upright Citizens Brigade offers an Improv 101 Intensive, in which students complete an entire class in merely five days. Students learn how to create characters, build scenes, and work with the wackiest of props. The course concludes with a class performance.

You wouldn’t call Mark Morris’s choreography baroque, precisely, but the first Saturday of every month his school offers 18th Century Dance Classes, taught by members of the New York Baroque Dance Company. This winter’s offerings are the minuet and the bourree. For those who prefer more contemporary forms, weekly classes in belly dance, West African dance, and modern dance also feature.


Sir Kingsley Amis’s greatest novel, Lucky Jim, contains perhaps the English language’s finest description of a hangover. Amis’s literary strategy? He spent consider- able time researching down at the pub, but also argued, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s trousers to the seat of one’s chair.” If you’ve got the sitting part down, but your skills still need refining, Gotham Writers’ Workshop offers a series of one-day workshops on subjects such as Travel Writing, Children’s Book Writing,
and Character Development

Some people, we are assured, still keep those old-fashioned diaries, actual handwritten ones that they don’t link to on their MySpace pages. If such a concept sounds strange, though intriguing, you might sign up for Journal to the Self, a six-week workshop at New York’s Open Center led by Michele Bernstein in which students learn techniques such as “capturing moments, character sketches, dream logs, guided imagery, shifting perspectives, tuning in to the stream of consciousness, topical reflections,” etc.

For Children For warmth, we like to depend on trusty radiators, vintage cloth coats, and a liberal supply of hot toddies. But animals apparently have other strategies to keep themselves cozy in the chillier months. The Bronx Zoo offers Winter Wonderlands, a class for children and their adults, which details how chinchillas, grizzlies, and snow leopards adapt to the cold. For those of us without our own fur coats, cocoa is provided.

Come on, baby, light my “small illuminated vessel.” That’s the sort of thing kids will create at the Center for Architecture’s annual Festival of Lights. The session will cover the luminous traditions of Thailand, the Philippines, India, Egypt, Holland, Mexico, etc. And they’ll build wearable radiant art.

In Sweden, Santa Claus is called Tomte. He’s a gnome who lives under the floorboards. (It could be worse: Presents used to be delivered by a Yule goat.) This may confuse young children, but attending Scandinavia House’s A Swedish Christmas Workshop should make matters clear. Children will participate in julpysseldag (Christmas craft day), making woven hearts, paper angels, and yarn

“The Bronx?” wrote Ogden Nash. “No Thonx!” But families with children ages five to 11 may feel rather more warm toward the Bronx—or, at least, the Bronx Museum—after attending its Family Affair workshop, which features guided tours, screenings, and hands-on art activities. December’s Family Affair will celebrate the holiday season.

Film/Video Perhaps you’re a bit too busy or penurious to devote several years and the odd hundred thou for a film-school degree. But if your lack of camera skills prevents your making a timeless contribution to world cinema— or YouTube—Brooklyn College offers a quick and cost-effective solution:
Hollywood Film Institute: Two-Day Film School, which ostensibly launched the careers of Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee. In one weekend—with time for sleeping and eating—you will learn enough to make and sell your masterpiece.

We had long believed that the sole require-ments for becoming a VJ are an attractive visage and a sublime vacuity. (Yeah, we’re still trying to figure out that whole Kennedy thing.) But apparently, it involves such strange skills and instruments as Edirol V-4, Modul8, Motion Dive, and Union. Goodness! Dubspot offers a weekend intensive course in
VJ Tools & Techniques, which should explain all these recondite terms.


Would-be old masters (and mistresses, too, we imagine) may benefit from this Art Students League Workshop,
Renaissance Drawing Techniques. Over five mornings, artist Alicia Rothman will lead students in the techniques and methods promulgated by Leonardo, Michelangelo, and their estimable ilk. Students will also learn how to create their own drawing materials.

The ancient art of printing dates back as far as the Phaistos disks from 15th-century B.C. Minos. So if your ink-jet printer no longer thrills you and you’d like to return to printing’s ancient and more visceral roots, the Center for Book Arts offers many courses in printing, including a weekend making natty Letterpress Notecards and Business Cards. In addition to acquiring skills, students will also acquire 24 handsome business cards.


We weren’t aware that Web publishing hurt very much (unless you’re being flayed on Gawker, of course), but Baruch College’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers a class in Painless Web Publishing as well as many other courses designed to help you better love and understand your Apple or PC. The Painless class teaches would-be bloggers—surely someone without a blog remains—how to establish a site without knowing even a line of HTML.


Ciao, bella! If you’d like to learn to order your gelato (or pasta, pizza, or pinot grigio) in the original, you might consider taking Elementary Italian at the Scuola Italiana del Greenwich Village. (Lesson 1: Translate that.) Housed in the suitably Italianate Our Lady of Pompeii School, classes run evenings, lunch-times, and Saturdays. Bonus: The school’s website boasts “Traditional Recipes” and an actual “Military Secret.”

New York State boasts more than three million Spanish speakers. Lest you prevent yourself from communicating with such a sizable population, the Insituto Cervantes offers language courses ranging from Elementary Spanish to Superior Spanish and special courses in Spanish for Business, Spanish for Medical Personnel, Spanish Guitar, and Wine Seminars. Dos cristales de vino rojo, por favor.


We’re living in a material world, but, as anyone who’s ever rescued a sofa from the street knows, some material is much nicer than others. Those who would like to improve the fabrics of their lives may wish to enroll in the Furniture Joint’s monthly Upholstery Class. Students will learn such recondite skills such as “re-springing” and “sewing.” (Sewing, imagine!) Lest you fear lugging your love seat to class, tools, equipment, and sample pieces will be supplied.

You could deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, or you could take a few classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and learn some other options for plant-based holiday decor. Thanksgiving Floral Design instructs in the creation of toothsome centerpieces, Holiday Greens tutors students in wreathes and swags, and Victorian Holiday Treasures revives the dormant art of boxwood topiary.

Some like it hot, very hot, temperatures in excess of 1,315 degrees Celsius hot. You can feel the heat in December as Brooklyn’s Urban Glass, the 30-year-old glass studio, offers a
Beginning Glassblowing Weekend. In the 17,000-square-foot studio, students will learn how to use basic tools and eventually create a paperweight and a drinking glass. Cheers!

Sport Whether your image of your skating self inclines more toward Slapshot or Ice Castles, Chelsea Piers offers an array of ice-skating courses for adults and children, with new classes beginning every week. Students can choose among Hockey Prep, Adult Skating Instruction, Black Diamond Clinic, or, for special help with that triple lutz, private lessons.

“He flies through the air with the greatest of ease/This daring young man on the flying trapeze,” says the old song. But plenty of women attempt the art of trapeze as well, and on weeknights in Brooklyn they’re teaching it to children and adults. The ladies of the performance troupe Lava offer Acrobatics for Adults (including trapeze and tumbling), Acrobatics for Kids, and Handstands for Adults. Sign those liability wavers and swing away.

The website for the World Martial Arts Center advertises that classes in HapKiDo, a Korean martial-arts technique will confer “character development,” “good health,” “respect,” and “kicking and punching.” (Thirty-six kinds of kicks and 144 punches can be learned!) Apparently, “HapKiDo is a Korean Martial Art that combines seven major technique areas including: strikes, blocks, holds, throws, weapons, internal techniques, and healing.” Weapons? Sign us up.


David Letterman seems quite wide-awake for a man with such a belated bedtime. Perhaps he can credit his alertness to the folks at Joe, The Art of Coffee, who supply java to Letterman’s show. Joe also supplies courses for caffeine junkies who would like to learn more about their fix (they can take Coffee 101) or find out how to prepare it at home (How to Make Yourself an Espresso (Big) Shot). If only more drugs were so delicious—and legal.

Now that Trader Joe’s has come to our fair isle, many of us restrict our wine drinking to the wonders of their two-buck chuck. But should you aspire to more refined imbibing, Vintage New York, which carries only New York State wines and liqueurs, offers monthly Train Your Taste Buds classes, where eager students learn to distinguish among six wines
and accompanying snacks.

Countless scientific studies have touted the benefits of dark chocolate—its consumption may lead to low blood pressure and help control diabetes—but if you’ve tired of Scharffen-Berger bars and would prefer a prettier medicament, you might consider the French Culinary Institute’s course in
Chocolate Truffles, Bonbons, and More. Over the course of five evenings, students will receive instruction “to temper, mold, and dip chocolate” and then enjoy the fruits (well, fruit-filled truffles) of their labor.

Hanukkah, that grand festival of lights, would be a dim holiday indeed if latkes were not featured. How shredded potatoes and chicken fat combine into such an unholy pleasure is a great culinary mystery. The Natural Gourmet Institute, typically known for its healthier offerings, will solve that mystery with Latke Mania. Instructor Myra Kornfeld will lead students in the creation of eight different latkes, one for each night of the holiday.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, many creatures were stirring—and mixing, and sautéing. On Christmas Eve, Miette Culinary Studio will offer an “Italian Classics” Recipes Special Class. Instead of sitting at home filling stockings, students will learn to make bruschetta, gnocchi, pork loin, and more. The nice ones might leave some leftover zabaglione out for St. Nick.


Steve Brill, a self-taught forager and self-proclaimed wild man, combs the city’s parks in search of persimmons, wood sorrel, sassafras, and chokecherry. Though
famous for his Central Park tours, he guides foraging walks all over New York. Over the winter, the hungry and curious can tramp along with him on one of his Wild Food and Ecology Tours and Talks in locales such as Prospect Park, Inwood Hill Park, Forest Park, Marine Park, and Alley Pond Park.

For those more likely to trip and cut them-selves than to cut a rug, every month the Sandra Cameron Dance Center offers the Basic Six class, which instructs students in the fundamentals of swing, tango, rumba, salsa, foxtrot, and waltz. Instructors are personal and fellow pupils typically friendly, even when you tread on their feet during a particularly expressive twirl.



These days, nearly everyone totes a digital camera, but we’re told that analog versions still exist. So this winter the International Center for Photography generously offers a two-weekend workshop in Photography I in Color: Camera and Darkroom for Beginners. Students will learn to operate the strange phenomenon known as the film camera and then inhale those delicious darkroom chemicals while developing their prints. Cameras available for loan.