Theater & Performing Arts
If your guitar gently weeps, perhaps you can cheer it up by enrolling in a class at the Brooklyn Guitar School in downtown Brooklyn. Courses range from “Guitar for Absolute Beginners” — wherein students learn tunes by R.E.M., Bob Marley, Third Eye Blind, Bob Dylan, and Guns ‘n’ Roses (can one pay extra not to learn Third Eye Blind?) — to “Advanced Adult Rock Band.” Occasional tutorials in the ukulele are also offered. brooklynguitarschool.com
Sure, you’re no one’s puppet, but why not learn how to build and manipulate some puppets of your own? In preparation for this spring’s Hudson River Pageant, Earth Celebrations is hosting a series of free puppet and costume workshops at the World Financial Center from March 3 through May 19, culminating in a parade to encourage the revitalization of the Hudson River. Students will learn to create and master “spectacular giant papier-mâché puppets.” earthcelebrations.com
You’ve pliéd your way through ballet class, pop-and-locked through hours of hip-hop, and stamped and shimmied through African dance. While Peridance offers all of the above (plus salsa, tap, jazz, modern, and theater dance) at its new home near Union Square, it also has a class to tempt the instep of even the most jaded hoofer: open-level samurai sword fighting. Students learn basic sword techniques such as “breathing, walking, gripping, swinging, stances” — then they fight! peridance.com
Coco Chanel quipped, “Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.” But putting on a new dress is still a very fine thing, particularly if it is one you made yourself. Make Workshop founder Diana Rupp instructs students in the creation of a “girly go-to dress,” featuring darts, a lined bodice, and an invisible zipper. Other frequently offered fashion classes at this Lower East Side studio include “Tunic Dress,” “Flouncy Tank-Top,” and “Make a Skirt (Pencil or Naughty Secretary).” makeworkshop.com
It may well be a dark and stormy night when you enjoy your first session of “Murder You’ll Write,” an evening writing course at Marymount Manhattan College’s Office of Special Programs on the Upper East Side devoted to the art of the detective novel. Students will “create ingenious sleuths, weave intricate plots, drop subtle clues, and introduce suspicious characters.” Then they’ll have to solve the mystery of how to get published.
Lynyrd Skynyrd notwithstanding, Cobble Hill’s FreeBird Workshops believe that this bird can change. Leaders of these small classes think that a group environment and gentle advice can help stuck writers quit procrastinating and finish their story, play, novel, or memoir. All classes conclude with a publishing party, in which students submit their work to magazines and journals. freebirdworkshops.webs.com
Art & Architecture
Valentin Serov, Vasily Surikov, and Ilya Repin do not teach at the Bridgeview School of Fine Art (they’ve all been dead for a while), but they are the primary influences of this Long Island City school’s teachers, many of whom trained at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. Classes include figure drawing, academic painting, portrait sculpture, and anatomy for artists. academicart.com
For the past 40 years, the Project of Living Artists, originally intended as an experiment in communal art making, has promised “no irritating and pompously dogmatic instruction, no proselytizing, no philosophical hogwash; simply … a place to draw.” Located in the Bushwick home of Joe Catuccio, the project maintains its commitment to life drawing by offering a class every Saturday of the year. newyorkartworld.com/gallery/projectlivingartists.html
Manhattan’s first buildings were not so impressive — a fort, a sawmill, a few houses. But in the 400 intervening years, we’ve achieved rather more flair in our structural design. Building enthusiasts might enjoy a Parsons course on the architecture of New York. On-site classes position all those bricks and girders in the context of “social, economic, and technological currents.” Parsons also offers a variety of continuing education courses in interior design and architecture studies. newschool.edu/parsons
Film & Video
Though guest lecturers aren’t usually a cause for excitement, Professor Richard Brown’s class at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies boasts a uniquely glamorous array of adjuncts. Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and countless others have assisted Brown in teaching “Movies 101,” described as “a cinematic adventure that offers a rich understanding of the newest films before they are released to the public, including in-depth interviews with directors and actors.” scps.nyu.edu
Apparently there’s more to making movies than romancing starlets, shouting, “Cut!,” and lounging in a canvas chair with your name emblazoned on the back. In the School of Visual Arts Continuing Education program’s “Introduction to Directing,” future auteurs will work with live actors, learning “how to visualize an idea and translate text to image, as well as using cinematic techniques to elicit the most effective psychological response from the audience.” sva.edu
For Children & Teens
In China, “moomah” is a slang term for Mom. In Tribeca, it means a café and play space offering some of the niftiest kids’ classes around. Spring courses at Moomah include glow-in-the-dark yoga, art and nature (which includes a field trip to Stone Barns Center in Tarrytown), a storytelling and songwriting class, and an imagination workshop led by the Story Pirates. moomah.com
OK, your child may be busier mastering toilet training and hand-eye coordination than, say, string theory, but according to the 92nd Street Y, “there’s a scientist in your pre-schooler.” Your budding Einstein can get a head start in “Hands-On Science,” “experimenting with air, water, soil, plants, and the stuff of everyday life.” After that, particle physics should be a cakewalk. 92y.org
Food & Drink
Most people might consider boot camp to be the punishment one signs up for after too much holiday indulgence. But not the fine gluttons at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village. Their three-day “Cheese U Boot Camp” features not a single sit-up, instead teaching students how to differentiate cheese styles, describe cheeses in depth, and pair like a pro. Drop and give me Camembert! murrayscheese.com
Get soused with new sophistication at Astor Center‘s “The Cocktail Lab: A Hands-On Workshop.” At each session (and, yes, you are encouraged to drink the fermented fruits of your labor), students receive a “quick primer on basic bar techniques, current cocktail trends, and the science behind perfect flavor combinations.” Then they use spirits, mixers, fresh fruits, juices, herbs, and spices to create a signature tipple. astorcenternyc.com
According to culinary history, chocolate was first consumed in the form of a thick, cold, unsweetened drink. What a waste! Luckily, sugar has improved the taste of chocolate tremendously, and you can celebrate that sweet progress with a class at Marine Park’s JoMart Chocolates. Up to nine students learn to make (and then presumably gorge themselves on) truffles — from scratch. jomartchocolates.com
Mind, Body & Spirit
If downward dog no longer leaves you panting and you’ve grown bored with crowing over your crow pose, consider revitalizing your practice at Kula Yoga Project‘s Ultimate Weekend. Classes and lectures include “Ashtanga Yoga With Spice,” “Yin Yoga,” “Fluid Power,” and “Endurance Yoga,” which “test your body and mind with long posture holds, difficult sequences, and challenging vinyasa.” kulayoga.com
Sting once claimed that he and his wife enjoyed eight-hour bouts of tantric sex. If you’re unusually patient, and agile, sign up for a couples’ tutorial in Tantra for Couples at White Lotus East, which aims to “enlighten you in the mysteries of Tantra and wisdom of Taoism, revealing ancient methods of heightening and prolonging erotic pleasure.” After a bath ceremony, instructors, referred to as “goddesses,” will demonstrate various techniques with each partner, allowing the other partner to learn and practice them. whitelotuseast.com
Life is often unpredictable, particularly without a personalized star chart. Happily, New York City’s chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research can coach you in the fine art of astrology. The council offers group introductory and advanced astrology courses, as well as private instruction. For those who don’t look to the night sky for clues to their future, the center also provides tutelage in tarot. astrologynyc.org
In the signal number of Nine, the Oscar-contending movie musical, various divas advise the listener to “Be Italian.” While dual citizenship or Roman ancestry can be rather difficult to obtain, Italian language courses are not. Parliamo Italiano, a school on the Upper East Side, has been operating for more than 30 years. It offers language classes at eight levels. Bene!
During the Bush era, many a liberal declared that if Republicans won, they would soon decamp for Canada. If subsequent administrations disappoint, you’ll want to be prepared for that new life in Quebec. While still in the States, though, you can pick up the native lingo at The French School. Very small classes (two to six students) emphasize conversation.
The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a frigid winter, with temperatures below average for most of the country. It likely won’t be quite so cold in our pleasant mid-Atlantic climes, but why not spend the season curled up beneath a hand-sewn quilt — particularly one you’ve sewn yourself? City Quilter boasts more than 20 classes in charm quilts, puzzle quilts, patchwork quilts, etc. So why not get down? Down-filled, that is. cityquilter.com
If you dream of handmade scarves and mittens, but your theme song might as well be “The Needle and the Damage Done,” consider improving your stitching skills with courses at Boerum Hill’s Knit-A-Way. In addition to private lessons and project consultations, you can enroll in classes such as “Knitting With Colors,” “Crochet Poncho,” and “Finishing Techniques.”
In New York, you can hire people to deliver your groceries, choose your wardrobe, even de-grime your toenails. But if you miss doing things with your own two hands, enroll in a workshop at Makeville in Gowanus. Classes include instruction in the building of art, lighting, and decorative and functional objects, and the very popular “Getting Started in Furniture Making.” Makeville offers kids’ classes, too. makeville.com
The oldest pair of ice skates, discovered in Switzerland, was last laced up some 5,000 years ago. Since that time, the activity has evolved, developing spectacular spins and jumps and a worrying tendency toward flesh-colored mesh fabrics. You can learn some of these techniques at Flushing’s World Ice Arena, which runs a strictly bring-your-own-sequins skating school, with instruction for tots, teens, and adults. You’ll be lutzing in no time. worldice.com
Longtime Voice writer Nat Hentoff once opined that the chief attraction of tennis is “the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault.” But if you’d like to practice your non-criminal behavior with some more élan, at Manhattan’s Midtown Tennis Club you can enroll in “Indoor Adult Tennis College,” “Adult Tennis Camp,” or “Stroke of the Week.” midtowntennis.com
Most people do not consider billiards a violent game. Clearly, they have not enrolled in Tony Robles’s Deadly Pool Workshop. Robles, a professional pool player who enjoys the sobriquet “The Silent Assassin,” instructs would-be ballers in the esoteric arts of cue ball control, position play, defense play, and killer attitude.
On a depressing day in the city, you can easily find yourself concluding that New York is for the birds. And it is! Pigeons fight for crumbs against ducks, geese, cormorants, sandpipers, egrets, and marsh hawks. The Salt Marsh Alliance has restored portions of Marine Park’s marshes and made them an Eden for birdwatchers and their prey. You can get your ornithology on at the Alliance’s Saturday-morning birding class. saltmarshalliance.org
Aspirin comes from willow bark, heart medicine from the foxglove, and anti-cancer drugs from yew trees. Natural remedies form the core of Herbal Bear‘s course in Medical Botany, offered both at its Chelsea location and at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Students will study the medicinal properties of plants and learn “proper methods for herbal cultivation, harvesting, and storage to protect herbal efficacy.” herbalbear.com
In 1825, the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce impressed a natural scene onto a polished pewter plate. You can learn of Niépce’s innovation and subsequent advances at Pratt‘s class in “History of Photography.” The course explores photography’s “social, artistic, and political contexts” and supplements weekly lectures with museum and gallery visits. Pratt also offers courses in black-and-white photography, portrait photography, and digital photography. pratt.edu
Photographers who long to take Manhattan might consider the New School‘s “Shadows, Textures, Reflections: Seeing the Light in New York City.” In every session, students shoot a new urban locale (“from the geometries of South Street Seaport to the natural beauty of parks and gardens”). Shutterbugs who long to flee our fair isle can temporarily escape with a class in travel photography. newschool.edu
Every New Yorker multitasks — answering e-mails while chatting on the phone, proofreading files on the subway, walking while balancing coffee and a bagel. But if you’d like to learn a more literal form of juggling, Juggle NYC offers a weekly class at its 14th Street home. Paris (the “Hip-Hop Juggler”) and Rod of the Flying Karamazov Brothers will instruct students in the manipulation of balls, scarves, rings, diabolos, and spinning plates.
Our city boasts a plenitude of smells, both delectable (fresh-brewed coffee, Curry Hill spices) and despicable (gingko blossoms, subway urine). If you’d like to put your New York nose to more remunerative use, consider the Fashion Institute of Technology‘s Creative Fragrance Development program. The spring semester presents an “Introduction to Perfumery”: scientific fundamentals, structure of a fragrance, and techniques of smelling.