Learn art, music, dance, home improvement and more

Winter is a time for fresh starts and optimistic resolutions, many of which revolve around learning a new skill or lessening the amount of time spent in front of the screens that seemingly take over our days.

Throughout the region, there are numerous in-person and online classes and workshops that will help you achieve your 2022 resolutions, inspire new interests, and maybe even expand your social circle.

“Learning something new or reconnecting with a hobby you used to have is nourishing for your brain,” says Deb Derrickson Kossmann, a private-practice clinical psychologist. “When you learn a new skill or reengage with an activity you like, these experiences often mean that you connect with other people while having fun.”

That’s something that Reba Price of East Falls Glassworks sees happen over and over again. “The glassmaking process requires a lot of teamwork and communication to get the result you want,” explains Price. “When people come together with a shared interest like that, it isn’t just the glass that takes shape. Our students frequently end up forming new friendships, too.”

But it is the excitement of trying something you never thought you would (or could) do that can be most rewarding. Sure, it is risky. The fear-of-failure bug that nags at you can be powerful. But, as Ali Rogers, program director at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts says, “How often in adulthood do we get to learn a fun, crazy new skill? It’s like, you never thought you’d want to ride a unicycle but once you try it, it’s like, ‘I have to ride this unicycle,’ and you keep at it until you get it!”

It really doesn’t matter what you try as long as you try something. “When you are trying something new or become a beginner again, it doesn’t matter how good you are at the activity,” says Derrickson Kossmann. “Just by trying, you increase your own sense of optimism and confidence. You become more open to other opportunities in life. And it can enhance your mood.” And we can all use that.

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Here are some fun, confidence-building, mood-enhancing workshops and classes to get you through the winter.

Keep in mind that in-person events and activities are unpredictable right now as the omicron variant continues to spread. Be sure to check with individual venues about their safety protocols and cancellation policies before heading out to class.

➡️ Tap dance, flamenco

😷 Masks required.

Tap shoes aren’t required at Sound Space but it’s way more fun when you can hear the rhythmic, syncopated sounds of “foot music.” “It’s about the noise,” says Pamela Hetherington, Sound Space owner and artistic director of the Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble. “Percussive dancing is for anyone looking to make a lot of noise.” And with one of the region’s only wooden floors for tap and flamenco, even newbies taking the eight-week Absolute Beginners introductory workshop make a joyous noise. Those with some tap background can take the Beginner-Intermediate class, where hoofers all work together to tapout a routine to a particular song. But if passion and drama are your thing, go for the eight-week flamenco workshops. “Flamenco gives people a chance to express a side of themselves they couldn’t express in everyday life,” says Hetherington. Musicians occasionally provide the live soundtrack for the monthly jazz brunch, where dancers bring their shoes and pound out rhythms with the band.

📍2511 W. Girard Ave., 2nd floor, 📞 267-273-6937, 🌐 soundspacephilly.net, 📷 @soundspacedance

➡️ Improv comedy, sketch writing

😷 Masks and vaccination, including booster, required.

The improv challenge: Expect the unexpected, and then run with it. At Crossroads Comedy Theater, some of the region’s most popular actors and comics lead six-week improv workshops that focus on active listening, opening the imagination, communication, and thinking creatively and quickly on your feet. “We are so used to hearing ‘no’ in our lives that it becomes our default,” says Mike Marbach, Crossroads’ founder and executive director. “Our workshops train you to accept what your improv partner throws at you and then build on that.” At the end of the workshop, there is an optional performance week where students perform and much laughter follows. Not a performer? Sketch-writing workshops are also offered.

📍1714 Delancey Place., 📞 215-650-7360, 🌐 xroadscomedy.com, 📷 @Xroadscomedy, 💵 $199 for six-week workshops

➡️ Bollywood dance, ballet, Zumba, hip-hop, belly dancing, ballet

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required.

You, too, can master the quick, intricate moves that make up Bollywood dance. The Valley Forge Dance School, a boutique dance studio, hosts twice-weekly workshops that incorporate easy-to-follow choreography and traditional Indian dance styles, along with mudras — the eye movements and hand gestures that are the signature movements of the Bollywood dance style. Mitali Das has taught Bollywood dance for 10 years and enthusiastically shares its benefits. “It’s very good for joint mobility, flexibility, coordination; it’s fun and you don’t need a dance background to do it,” she says. Catchy Indian music provides the soundtrack for the 60- to 90-minute classes. As beginners catch on to the hand, hip, and foot movements, they gradually move on to the higher leg lifts and high-energy dances.

You can also shake your groove thing in the belly dancing, Zumba, and hip-hop classes, or release your inner ballerina in the ballet classes, which are designed specifically for adults.

📍216 W. Beidler Rd., #800, King of Prussia, 📞 610-337-1772, 🌐 valleyforgedance.com, 💵 $15 per drop-in class, $10 per class for the entire series

➡️ Voice lessons and instrument instruction: piano, brass instruments, wind instruments, and string instruments

😷 Masks required.

Become Pavarotti in your shower with vocal lessons at Settlement Music School. Even if you think you are tone-deaf, the faculty can coax the best out of your voice. Workshops are individualized to each student so you could work on scales, vocal technique, and control to develop a repertoire that accommodates your singing abilities. “Our faculty works with each student on where their voice is,” says Karin Orenstein, dean of Settlement Music School. “They are encouraging and they love adults’ enthusiasm.” More advanced workshops bring singers and musicians together to collaborate on musical selections, and the optional recital provides the opportunity to show off your musical chops. “Students might be hesitant, but once they do it, they are so excited,” says Orenstein. “Their reaction is always, ‘I never thought I could do that.’ ” Settlement also offers more than 20 adult workshops — including Musicianship; Intro to Piano; Guitar; World Rhythms; and Music Technology and Production — as well as chamber ensembles, orchestras, jazz ensembles, and rock bands. Schedules and rates vary by date with discounts for students over 60.

📍Multiple locations, 📞 215-320-2601, 🌐 settlementmusic.org, 📷 @settlementmusic

➡️ Ice skating

😷 Masks required.

Gliding around the ice with confidence and skill isn’t just for the young ice skaters you see on TV. Situated on the Cobbs Creek/Delaware County border, the indoor Laura Sims Skate House offers five-week group learn-to-skate classes for all ages. Coaches take special care when teaching adult skaters, focusing on both safety and skills. After mastering the first steps, soon you’ll be doing forward and backward crossovers and other impressive moves. There’s even an end-of-season showcase where you can dazzle your friends and family with your skating prowess. Best of all it’s a great cardio workout where you can burn hundreds of calories in an hour. Sign up one week prior to the start of each series.

📍63rd and Walnut Streets, 📞 215-685-1995, 🌐 laurasimsskatehouse.org, 💵 Basic skills series, $65; advanced skills series, $80. 📅 Feb. 12–March 19 and March 26-April 16

➡️ Trapeze, unicycle, juggling, tightrope, slings classes

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required.

For everyone who ever dreamed of running away and joining the circus, this is the place for you. With classes in trapeze, unicycle, trampoline, juggling, tightrope, slings, and other activities, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is like an adult playground. “No matter your age, weight, [or] physical abilities, we work with you at that stage,” says Ali Rogers, program director. The trapeze, slings, and tightrope wires are low to the ground for the intro classes, where you’ll learn how to get on and off the equipment, how to properly stand, and how to master a few upside-down moves. After that, take your pick. Trapeze? Athletic pole work? Tightrope? They all have benefits galore. “It’s a great way to improve your balance, coordination, strengthen your core, and develop upper body strength,” says Rogers. Sign up for a package or drop-in classes. Dress in comfortable clothes and bring a water bottle.

📍6452 Greene St., 📞 215-849-1991, 🌐 phillycircus.com, 📷 @philly_circus

➡️ Gymnastics

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required.

Another generation is learning to do flips, handsprings, and rolls thanks to the adult gymnastics classes at Philly InMovement. Under the tutelage of coach Teresa Dabback (a 24-year gymnastics veteran) and other experienced gymnasts, adults work on floor routines, the vault, balance beam, and bars during the four-week adult Beginner Series workshop. “We take it slow and gentle and make modifications so that older students can enjoy the sport of gymnastics in a safe, fun and supportive environment,” says Dabback. “When one of our adult students masters a skill, it’s like Christmas morning. Everyone gets so excited and claps and cheers for their success.” InMovement also offers Advanced Beginner workshops and drop-in classes for those who want to advance their skills or return to the sport. Classes max out at 12 people.

📍810 N. Hancock St., 📞 267-639-6103, 🌐 phillyinmovement.com, 📷 @phillyinmovement

➡️ Painting, drawing, sculpture, fiber arts, photography, jewelry, and ceramics

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required. Boosters required for adults 18 and up.

“Everybody has an artist within them, and you don’t need skills to enjoy creating something,” says Vita Litvak, Fleisher Art Memorial’s director of education. That’s the Fleisher philosophy, which has been helping people discover their inner artist for 123 years. The in-person, online, hybrid, and Spanish bilingual classes are all incredibly affordable; some classes are even free with an annual $65 individual membership, or $120 for a household with up to 10 members. The teaching staff is warm and encouraging, and with Fleisher’s 118 different offerings, you can explore your artistic ventures in many mediums. In addition to drawing, painting, and sculpture, you can try your hand at fiber arts, photography, jewelry, ceramics, bookmaking, and much more. Classes run for five or 10 weeks and they fill up fast. Check online for a complete list of offerings.

📍719 Catharine St., 📞 215-922-3456 ext. 300, 🌐 fleisher.org, 📷 @fleisherart

➡️ Glass blowing

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required.

Ask any glassblower what compares to the art, and chances are they can’t come up with anything. That’s because the material is alien, the process is wild, and the results are a thing of beauty. During the four-week Intro to Hot Glass workshops, students learn safety procedures, use of the tools, how to make shapes, how to gather glass from the furnace, and the science behind it all. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a glass coil pot or solid glass sculpture to adorn your bookshelf or coffee table. In the Next Steps course, you will begin actual glassblowing, adding colors and shaping techniques. “The material is stubborn and there’s a sense of excitement and accomplishment when you get it to do what you want,” says Reba Price. It gets hot in the classroom, so bring water bottles, wear solid, closed-toe shoes, and dress in cotton clothing (synthetic fibers can melt). Bring your own safety glasses or use theirs. Classes are limited to nine people.

📍3510 Scotts Lane, 📞 215-908-7924, 🌐 eastfallsglass.com, 📷 @eastfallsglassworks, 💵 $350 for four-week workshop

➡️ Wide variety of classes focusing on Italian artists, impressionists, and color theory

😷 Masks and proof of vaccination required.

As home to arguably one of the world’s most prestigious collections of fine art, the Barnes is a perfect place to take a deep dive into the world of art and artists. Scholarships and the flexibility of in-person, online, or hybrid classes mean just about everyone can explore the details and backstories that lead to a deeper, richer appreciation of artistic treasures. The two-hour classes, which run for four weeks, draw not only from the Barnes’ collection, but also now also include other works from around the globe. Combining lectures, discussions, and Q&A, topics can range from the impact of the culture of 20th-century France on art techniques to studies of the Barnes’ African artifacts to overviews of the works of Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and others. And thanks to the skills of the Barnes’ IT and AV departments, even the online classes can zero in on the smallest details and brushstrokes of the works under study. A full list of courses, schedules and scholarship info are available on the Barnes’ website.

📍2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 📞 215-278-7000, 🌐 barnesfoundation.org, 📷 @barnesfoundation

➡️ Woodworking, furniture making

😷 Masks required.

So you say you don’t know a milling machine from a band saw. Not to worry. In just a few weeks, the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop will turn you into a woodworking whiz. The Beginner Series gives you hands-on training in the basics of woodworking, how to use machinery and hand tools, and other foundational skills. And once the woodworking bug bites, there are more advanced project workshops where you can actually make furniture. You can bring your own hand tools and safety glasses, but with its 12 professional, full-size workbenches, assorted machinery, and hearing protection, the Philadelphia Furniture Workshop has everything you need to tackle just about any project. Course fees vary, and classes are limited to eight students. Private instruction and master classes are also available.

📍5212 Pulaski Ave., 📞 215-849-5174, 🌐 philadelphiafurnitureworkshop.com

➡️ Wine tastings, Wine & Spirit Education Trust classes

😷 Masks required.

Make this the year you conquer those intimidating and lengthy wine lists. Using coursework developed by the internationally renowned Wine & Spirit Education Trust, experts who have earned sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers or are certified through the Society of Wine Educators lead you through the sometimes confusing world of wine. “The whole snooty wine thing is becoming passe,” explains Neal Ewing, Philly Wine School director. “Students can learn very quickly how to feel more confident ordering in a restaurant.” The workshops are divided into four levels, the first two for wine lovers, and the final two focused on career development.

The online, self-paced four-week introductory course covers serving temperatures, pairings, and grape varieties but isn’t essential for students with some background. The second level is when the fun really starts. The eight-week online and in-person hybrid includes wine tastings as well a deeper study of grape growing and winemaking techniques, in addition to lessons about which grapes thrive in specific areas, info about some of the lesser-known species, and the ins and outs of sparkling and fortified wines. “We even work on how to open sparkling wine without getting it all over the ceiling,” jokes Ewing. For the more casual wine drinker, Philly Wine also offers wine tasting classes at venues throughout the area and can even be hired to do at-home tastings for a group.

📍Winter semester classes take place at the Sofitel Philadelphia, 120 S. 17th St., 📞 610-716-9818, 🌐 phillywine.com

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