Continuing Education 2012

Continuing studies in NYC—from computer courses, cooking classes and language lessons to photography classes and yoga instruction.

Illustration: Joe Paul


For proof of New York’s booming burlesque scene, just flip to our Nightlife section. Fixtures Calamity Chang and Gal Friday are alumni of the New York School of Burlesque, headed by Jo “Boobs” Weldon, who literally wrote The Burlesque Handbook. The four-session Essential Burlesque Dance Series (440 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St, studio 4C,; Sun 1–3pm; four weeks $95; every month) gets students twirling tassels on Day One—they also learn to artfully peel a glove, walk a boa, and bump and grind, and the sexy way to remove a bra. “The most empowering aspect of the class isn’t necessarily the movements themselves,” explains Weldon, “but the discovery that they’re capable of mastering a new skill to a level at which they can perform in a student showcase in such a short amount of time.” In the subsequent sessions, students will be initiated into the fan dance, chair dance (think Liza Minnelli in Cabaret) and striptease. Weldon, who is also co–executive director of education for the Burlesque Hall of Fame and who learned from veterans like Bambi Jones and Dee Milo, will recount the history of each move as she initiates novices into the craft.

For a book club with a difference, Fifty Shades fans can learn to navigate the world of the salacious trilogy in “50 Shades of Kink, offered monthly at Shag and roughly bimonthly at the Museum of Sex (; see website for dates; $35). Founder of international ambassadors of kink the Domi Dollz, Kimi Inch—a.k.a. Nina Payne—and fellow instructor Mona Rogers take you through the book’s core concepts, while demonstrating techniques on a “boy toy.” Topics include the psychology of kink; negotiating a “contract” before embarking on exploration; “impact play” such as spanking, flogging and paddling; role-playing scenarios such as student-teacher or employee-boss; and using Ben Wa balls. “They come in many sizes and they’re to strengthen the Kegel muscles,” explains Inch, “but Christian uses them to remind Ana she’s his property, which turns her on.” And this is one class where students welcome discipline. “If they aren’t paying attention, they might get a spanking,” she quips.—Lisa Ritchie


Nonprofit arts and media organization BRIC (242 3rd St at 3rd Ave, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-683-5658, offers two dirt-cheap small-group intros to social media. If you’re a Brooklyn resident and among the dwindling number of people who aren’t plugged into Facebook or Twitter, a two-hour evening crash course will take you through setting up your profile and using the sites, including photo and video sharing (Facebook: Aug 27 6–8pm; Twitter: Sept 5 6–8pm; $10). The organization also offers Videoblogging 101, for those who want to create a Web page incorporating video (Aug 15, Nov 7 6–8pm; $10).

Whether you’re in a marketing job looking to move into the social-media-marketing arena and/or boost your company’s social-media profile, a small-business owner who wants to promote your products or services, or looking to enter this growing industry, Pratt Institute’s one-day continuing ed class, Social Media and Social Media Marketing (212-647-7199,; Sept 2, Oct 9, Nov 11 or Dec 4; $295) will give you a solid grounding in how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (plus newcomers to the arena such as Tumblr and Pinterest) to your advantage. Jay Miletsky, who has created social-media campaigns for Hershey’s and the NBA, among others, will guide you through the most effective strategies, including blogging and creating branded video content that goes far beyond old-school corporate promotional videos. “Let’s say you’re a financial planner; I don’t want to see videos of what your services are, but you can create a series of videos that show people how to save money for different situations, like the top five ways for saving money for your kids’ college education—something that people are getting something out of and recognizing you’re the one that put this stuff together.” If you want to take the specialty further, Pratt now offers a certificate program in Online and Social Media Marketing.

Chances are whatever your big idea is, there’s an app for that. Cooper Union’s “Building Apps for Mobile Devices” (212-353-4195,; Tue 6:30–9:30pm; $790; Oct 9–Dec 11) covers both programming and graphic design, to create products that stand out in a market that’s as crowded as an Apple Store on a Saturday afternoon. The school has also landed talented illustrator Jorge Colombo, who creates gorgeous artwork for New Yorker covers using an iPhone, for its new two-day workshop, “Drawing and Painting on Tablets and Smartphones” (Oct 6 and 7; $675). No previous painting or drawing experience is required. Colombo will guide you through the Brushes application, and you’ll work from life or images in books or magazines. “[Smartphones] are a bit like Swiss Army knives these days,” says Colombo. “That’s one of the things I like about this technology; it’s something that is already in your life. If you want to try watercolors or oil painting, you have to get an easel, paints and brushes, and you only use them for that dedicated activity. The appeal for a newcomer is that more often than not you have one of these tools already.” While creating art on a “canvas” roughly two by three inches may seem daunting, Colombo compares it to eating with a knife and fork—at the beginning it’s clumsy, but it becomes second nature.

For those who want to transition to the job-rich field of network administration, Understanding Networking Fundamentals (1 State St Plaza at Whitehall St, 23rd floor; 800-268-7737,; $2,995; Sept 10–14), run by well-regarded international professional training outfit Global Knowledge, will give you a solid grounding in the basics: how to connect computers to a network and how routers forward data packets, the basics of network security and firewalls and wireless networking. Unlike some other training centers, Global Knowledge incorporates hands-on labs. “We bring all the equipment into the classroom,” says product manager Tori Easterly. “Students get to take out all the routers and the switch and add a hub. They all have the cables and build the network from scratch.” As a result, when you start typing commands into the laptop, you’ll understand what’s happening. Once you’ve come to grips with the basics, you can move on to more advanced networking—Global Knowledge offers a course in TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol), which is at the core of the Internet and intranets.—Lisa Ritchie

Book a tech class now

Urban agriculture

In response to the widespread obsession with locally grown produce, new gardens and farms have taken root in all five boroughs. You can gain the skills to become part of the movement at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (990 Washington Ave at President St, Crown Heights, Brooklyn; 718-623-7200, The popular Gardening 101 teaches the basics over two Saturdays (Oct 13, 20 2–5pm; members $82, nonmembers $91). Gardeners Ashley Gamell and Jenny Blackwell cover the workings and requirements of plants, soil and composting, which tools you really need, how to care for plants as they grow from tender shoots to full size, and why native is better—even in the city. You’ll leave with specific plans for your own project. Learn to use your harvest in other fall continuing-ed workshops, including making cocktails with herbs and bitters and cooking with foraged wild plants (see website for details).

If you’ve been dreaming of greening up your building’s roof, register for the New York Botanical Garden’s City Roof Design (718-817-8700, In a one-day session at the Bronx wonder’s midtown satellite classroom (20 W 44th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; Sept 19 6:15–9:15; members $42, nonmembers $47), instructor Hanna Packer offers pointers on designs that will withstand the elements and recommends the best plants and materials to use.

Among the many urban farming classes offered by City Farms Workshops (212-645-9880, ext 221;—most of which are free and open to the public—is the ever-popular Introduction to Urban Chicken Keeping. Held at Imani Garden (Dean and Schenectady Sts, Crown Heights, Brooklyn) and led by Bee Ayer of bkfarmyards, it’s two interactive hours (Sept 13 5:30–7:30pm) on the art of raising and caring for hens, and the many benefits they provide. Besides those delicious eggs, you’ll get fertilizer for the garden, kitchen and garden scrap recycling, and more.

If you’re really serious about urban farming, August is the month to apply for the Urban Agriculture certificate program run by Farm School NYC ( Highly competitive (150 people applied for 15 slots last year, according to director Jane Hodge), the two-year course of study combines top-notch agricultural training with a strong social-justice component. See the website for application details.—Jana Martin