Class Action Listings – 1/21/2009



Amid the nausea, back pain, and fatigue, workouts may rank rather low on the to-do list of moms-to-be. But the six-week Maternal Fitness workshop at Spabébé near Union Square teaches expectant mothers exercises and techniques designed to directly improve pregnancy and childbearing. Later, they can sign up for “Lose Your Mummy Tummy” seminars.

Sure, sure, yoga works to strengthen the body, calm the mind, and ease the spirit, but according to a recent article in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, all those asanas improve orgasms, too. Couples interested in reaping this ancillary benefit can register for Partner Yoga for Valentine’s Day at OM Yoga at Ailey in Hell’s Kitchen. Unattached students are also welcome.

The Dalai Lama is not only a fearless fashion icon (hey, it’s not every man who can pair burgundy and saffron), he’s also a great spiritual leader. To make like his holiness, you might consider the meditation classes offered at Tibet House on West 15th Street. Designed for both novice and expert students, these friendly evening sessions offer a brief history of the discipline and a guided meditation.

The Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa in midtown offers various services you shouldn’t try at home—Botox, Restylane, and Juvéderm cosmetic enhancements among them. But the celebrated spa also offers some less toxic enrichments, including lessons in makeup application. For $80, professionals will instruct you in cosmetological arcana and use a nifty laser device to determine your skin tone.

Theater and Performing Arts

Perhaps you long to sit behind a desk adorned with index cards and a glass of water, or invite audience members to view your cervix, or develop an improbably intimate relationship with canned yams. Yes, if you too long for a career in performance art, you can sign up for Do It Yourself, a solo performance course at Chelsea’s People’s Improv Theater. The class culminates in a performance at the theater.

An unfortunate corollary of the credit crunch: Several Broadway shows have postponed their openings, including Bob Fosse’s Dancin. So if you’ve a more immediate hunger for jazz hands, you might consider a theatrical jazz class at Steps NYC on the Upper West Side. Instructors will teach students to slither and slide through jetés, leaps, and pirouettes. Provocative dancewear not provided.

If only Hollywood musicals like Mamma Mia! or Chicago had half the vibrancy and panache of any of the dozens of Bollywood films released each year. If you long to try those sinuous arm movements and hip swivels at home, Bollywood Axion in midtown offers classes in Bollywood dance, as well as bhangra and garba/raas, courses that combine classic Indian dance styles with hip-hop and modern dance.


For ladies and gents who know how to make a Singer sing, but could use a little moral support with their sewing, Home Ec in Gowanus, Brooklyn, offers a weekly open studio. For $10 per hour, students have access to sewing tools, cutting tables, steam irons, reference books, adjustable dress forms, expert advice, and a sweet little Kenmore model on which to construct their creations.

The original Goths, those East Germanic tribes of the third and fourth centuries, were not precisely chic—though some factions could really rock an animal skin. But the more recent incarnation is infinitely more stylish, as evidenced by the “Goth: Dark Glamour” exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology. FIT is closing out the exhibit with a special weekend symposium, “Subculture and Style,” on February 13 and 14, featuring designers Rick Owens and Anna Sui.

In the current economic climate, who has the cash for designer clothes? Well, if you become a designer yourself, those togs should be more affordable. Parsons School of Continuing Education and Professional Studies offers spring courses in Construction Techniques and Pattern-Making Basics for the Female Form. These courses teach hand- and machine-sewing techniques, as well as pattern designs for skirts and blouses. Who needs Bergdorf’s?


According to the old adage, everyone has at least one book in her. If you’d like help getting it out of you—and you anticipate it might be particularly steamy—you might enroll in Silk Sheets: Writing Erotica at the New School for General Studies Continuing Education. According to the instructor, each class concentrates on the dull niceties of “plot, timing, character, and locale,” and also on the good stuff: “sensual descriptive passages.”

A passel of impressive writers have taken classes at Columbia University—J.D. Salinger, Federico García Lorca, Carson McCullers, and Langston Hughes among them. But these days the most impressive writers at Columbia are on the faculty (and have the distinct advantage of remaining alive). Continuing-education classes in writing boast such teachers as Sam Lipsyte, Rivka Galchen, Ed Park, Stacey D’Erasmo, and Gary Shteyngart.


Chinese brush painting has existed for over 6,000 years, giving artists ample time to perfect the technique, which uses an exquisitely fine brush to paint animals, plants, figures, and many a lovely mountain. The Upper East Side’s China Institute in America, which has offered classes in New York since 1926, features two courses in the storied method. At their first class, students receive materials and begin instruction in “landscapes, bird-and-flower paintings, insects and fish.”

Maybe you have a deep impression of the Impressionists and a firm handle on baroque sculpture, but find conceptual art rather, well, inconceivable. If so, then you might enroll in Understanding Contemporary Art: The Essential Guide to New Art and New Media, one of the excellent courses offered at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. This course traces developments in the art world from the 1960s to the present.

Soho has long ceded its claim as a mecca for artists, as its theaters and galleries increasingly give way to H&M and Uniqlos. But a few spaces have survived the onslaught of fast fashion and fab cashmere. One such site, the Spring Studios in Soho, survives into its 16th year offering life-drawing classes every day of the week. Priced at less than $10 per class when purchased in bulk, they include tutorials in portrait drawing, the Bargue method, and “the Natural Way to Draw.”

For Children

According to a highly scientific study of photos in Hello! and a couple of dirty weekends spent in Paris, we’ve found that French children are infinitely more adorable than their American counterparts. If you can’t manage to make your own children French, you can at least ensure they have an accent vraiment merveilleux at the French Institute Alliance Française. Children as young as one can get started learning their chat from their chien using songs, stories, and hopefully small bribes in the form of Petit Écolier cookies.

Many parents consider their teens sufficiently dramatic. But for those rare progenitors who think their offspring ought to become even more theatrical, there’s Drama Kids. These studios, with outposts in 19 countries and two boroughs (Manhattan and Staten Island), train students in speech, dramatic movement, and improvisation, as well as a bit of playwriting. Imagine the improvements movement and vocal technique will make in their abilities for eye-rolling and derisive laughter. Programs for kids as young as three are also available.

Fourth grade may seem a rather tender age to enroll a child in a pre-college program, but then again most pre-college programs don’t teem with offerings in painting, cartooning, fashion design, and even interior design. That’s just part of the curriculum at the Parsons Pre-College Academy. In addition to having fun and learning valuable skills, your pre-teen can supplement his or her allowance by redesigning your living room. Several scholarships are available.

Food and Drink

In another time of economic hardship, the suffering were callously instructed to eat cake. But maybe that’s not terrible advice. Cake’s awfully cheering, and just imagine the charming and tasty cakes you might make after a few classes at Pattycakes in Jackson Heights, Queens. In addition to courses in such confections as candy-chocolate cake, tres leches cake, and red velvet cake, the school offers instruction in cake decorating, advanced fondant, gumpaste flowers, and Dominican decoration.

Josie’s Restaurants have a reputation for thoughtful, nutrition-conscious cuisine. Happily, their interest in the wholesome and nourishing includes a healthy interest in booze. On March 25, their Citrus restaurant on the Upper West Side will offer a Toast to Spring class, featuring cocktails, food pairings, and “mind-altering mixers.” The class will cover drink mixing, hors d’oeuvre preparation, and how to shop for party supplies.


While New York does not require more pneumatic blondes or smog, we wouldn’t mind if some aspects of Hollywood arrived in our fair city—warm weather, say, or decent Mexican food. Until global warming and immigration patterns make those whims reality, we can content ourselves with a visit from the Hollywood Institute’s Two-Day Film School: A Crash Course for Writers, Producers, and Directors, coming to Pratt’s Manhattan campus on March 14 and 15. In 48 hours, this fast-forward class will show you how to produce, direct, and shoot your film, and then finance, distribute, and sell it.

“Movies,” said John Malkovich, “are all about lighting.” Malkovich meant the comment derisively, but would-be auteurs might well benefit from a course in Cinematography and Lighting at the School of Visual Arts. A cinematographer for television, films, and music videos leads students through a seminar in techniques and effects for luminous filmmaking. Arriflex 16S, Bolex, and Sony cameras are used.


Perhaps you aspire toward a lucrative career as a television personality or radio host. But imagine the tedium of actually having to report to work at the network or studio. Instead, why not make your mark on the entertainment world with podcasting, which you can achieve from the comfort of your own computer. Among its various free workshops, the Apple Store in Soho offers a tutorial in using GarageBand and iWeb to realize those modest broadcasting dreams.

Perhaps you’ve been swayed by Justin Long’s sensitive and nuanced performance as a Mac in those ubiquitous ads, but you fear the changeover from your PC. In addition to more advanced courses in digital design and graphic design, Parsons School of Continuing Education offers a class in Mac Basics for PC Users, detailing the differences in operating systems. It should ease your about-face interface.


Fewer than one million speakers chatter in Estonian, a Finno-Ugric language that’s produced some lovely folk songs, lyric poetry, and national epics. If you’d like to join the proud few who read, write, and speak this tongue, you can register for adult language courses offered every Thursday at the New York Estonian House in Murray Hill. Established in 1929, the organization serves as the hub for Estonian activity in New York.

Many have argued that the situation in the Gaza Strip would improve if better communication between Arab and non-Arab factions were possible. Perhaps we civilians can content ourselves with an Arabic class offered by Cactus Language Courses at its two Manhattan locations. These decidedly unprickly lessons run for 10 weeks and pair a native-speaker instructor with no more than 12 students. Course materials are included in the price.


Ancient Egypt can credit itself with the invention of the calendar, the pyramids, hieroglyphs, and apparently the pastime of quilting. New Yorkers wanting to blanket themselves in bedcovers of their own making can learn the techniques at Purl Patchwork in Soho, which offers classes in Machine Piecing and Quilting, Quilting by Hand, Applique, and Embroidery.

If you want more bling for your buck, forsake Madison Avenue for the Flatiron District. Beads of Paradise, an importer of beads and baubles from Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, the Middle East, and Mexico, offers Sunday classes where you’ll learn about stringing bracelets and necklaces, earring techniques, even pearl knotting—and leave with relevant tools and at least one piece of jewelry.


If you long to get into the swing of things, the Parks Department offers tennis lessons in all five boroughs. In the winter, visit the Prospect Park Indoor Tennis Center, which offers lessons on both hard and clay courts. Prospect Park also sponsors a program teaching tennis to adults with children with physical and cognitive challenges. Smashing!

Pirate legend has it that 18th-century brigands (in Canarsie of all places!) may have dumped assorted doubloons in Jamaica Bay. If you plan to seek their ill-gotten gains, get your booty over to scuba lessons at Pan Aqua Diving (in high and dry midtown). It offers certification and classes in open-water diving, rescue diving, emergency first response, and technical training.


Imagine marinara with basil from your own garden or tabbouleh salad with homegrown mint. If you long for a kitchen garden but lack access to a plot of earth, you might consider Leda Meredith’s two-hour Indoor Herb Garden class at the New York Botanical Garden. She’ll teach students which herbs enjoy an interior life and how to make them grow. Sage advice.

What a waste! In 1994 the Queens Botanical Garden established a compost project to induct us into the mysteries of “creating the ideal conditions for the rapid decomposition of organic materials, such as leaves, vegetable, and fruit peel,” and using it to fertilize home gardens. QBG offers classes, workshops, certificate programs, and even a helpline for composters with rubbish queries.

There’s a sucker born every minute, and many of them are currently on display at the New York Aquarium‘s octopus exhibit. Those who wish to know more about the aquarium (the oldest continually operating one in the country) and its sodden inhabitants can attend a behind-the-scenes seminar, getting uncomfortably close to sharks, squid, sea lions, and assorted marine life.


The term “snapshot” first appeared in 1860, courtesy of photographer and scientist Sir John Herschel, but it took another century or so for the snapshot to receive consideration as an art form. Now the ability to point and click is nearly enough to set you on the road to art stardom. But if you’re the kind to stop and ask for direction, you might consider a Hunter College continuing education class in Seriously Fun Photography. Students will “learn-by-doing, exploring professional techniques while creating a portfolio project (on any topic of your choice) to show your advanced skills.”

New York has a proud history of photographs used as a mechanism for social change, from the shocking slum images of Jacob Riis to much more recent depictions of neglected populations. The International Center for Photography in midtown helps to continue this tradition, offering several documentary and photojournalism classes such as The Photographer as Artist and Social Documentarian, Photographing the Social landscape, and Street Photography: The Poetic Witness.


There was a time when walking through the Bronx wasn’t a recommended way to pass an afternoon. But according to realtors and sundry others, the Boogie Down—home to the country’s poorest congressional district (represent!)—is enjoying something of a renaissance. To learn more about the borough and its history, Viator hosts a walking tour of sites including the Grand Concourse, Yankee Stadium, Little Italy, and the homes of luminaries such as Edgar Allen Poe and JFK.