908A N. 3rd St.
Does working with molten glass at extremely high temperatures sound intimidating to you? Well, it certainly won’t after you’ve taken a few lessons in beadmaking and lampworking at Philadelphia Glass Works. Since its inception in 2003, Philadelphia Glass Works has made the move from its original West Philadelphia environs to a very snazzy space in Northern Liberties containing a large array of workshops and exhibition areas. The adjoining Silica Galleries represent “the next generation of contemporary sculptors with a concentration in glass,” so before your lesson gets underway, be sure to pass through for a dose of inspiration. Founders Nathan Purcell and Ian Kerr have been devoted to making it the only public glass-working space in all of Philadelphia, with resident artists offering lessons to any and all who are interested. The studio is also open to all amateur or semi-professional glass workers that want to take advantage of the facilities (which are available for rentals), so you can absorb some glass-blowing talent simply by proxy. Students of all skill levels are welcome, so if the word “slumping” sounds like gibberish to you (or if it’s practically second nature), worry not — you can always learn more.
Private lessons are offered for groups of at least four, so gather three friends and get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the Lead Dance Studio
4701 Pine St.
While Penn students certainly do a lot of dancing on Thursday nights, at sweaty house parties and (if you’re in CityStep) elementary school cafeterias, it’s probably rare that any of it falls into the realm of salsa, merengue, chacha, or ballroom. Since you’re probably out of practice in all of these more formal categories, take a few lessons at West Philly’s own Take the Lead Dance Studio. Founders Garincha Hilaire and Jennifer Janson are both experienced dance instructors and highly talented dancers themselves, so whatever advice they have is probably worth taking. If there’s a particular type of dance that you end up identifying with, you can stick with it and move up the ranks through their different skill levels and increasingly advanced classes; Level One teaches the basic steps, Level Two introduces some new techniques, and Level Three helps you start to put your own personal touches on the art of the dance. Follow their system and you should be a dance-happy, rhythm-savvy pro in no time at all. Both private and group lessons are available, so if you’re either intrigued by the idea of finding a mate while you moonwalk the salsa, or just want to go for a more laid back learning environment, these classes might be right up your alley.
Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catherine St.
Too nervous to enter the front doors of Addams? Unwilling to dedicate 20 hours of your week and your sanity to Drawing I? Enter Fleisher Art Memorial. Since its establishment in 1898, the Fleisher Art Memorial has been offering free, low stress art instruction to anyone who wants it. For just the low price of materials, take classes ranging from drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and photography, all of which are offered in ten week sessions. The free classes are designed for beginners and are attended by anyone from seniors to teens. Fleisher even offers class in art history — get a crash course in major artists, works and movements from the Renaissance to the present without the pressure of paper writing, 10-pound bulk packs and that brutal Friday morning ARTH 002 recitation.
If your skills are a little more developed, consider registering for the more intensive workshops, which offer one-on-one instruction, specialized topics and more studio time. The advanced classes require tution, albeit at a very reasonable rate. If you sign up for a class, join Fleisher’s membership program for discounts on paid classes, at their supply store and free general admission to the PMA. Classes are first come first serve and fill quickly, so put your Penn InTouch skills to work and get clicking. Registration for the Spring session begins March 1.
Philly Improv Theater
407 Bainbridge St.
Have you ever seen Penn’s own Without a Net do their thing and then thought, “Man, I wish I could do that?” Most of you aren’t funny enough yet — but you can be with Philly Improv Theater’s help. Founded in 2005 by Greg Maughan (who was attending Penn at the time), PHIT is dedicated to the art of long-form improv. The cast performs as a group one week a month at the Shubin Theater (407 Bainbridge Street) but offers classes year-round with new sections often starting once a month, so you don’t have to wait an entire season to sign up. Whether you want to be the newest cast member on SNL or Whose Line is it Anyway? PHIT has a class for you, offering courses in sketch comedy writing as well as traditional improv.
Not ready to commit to weeks of class? One-off workshops are also offered for more advanced students, which meet for a single afternoon and concentrate on specific improv techniques and priniciples. The most casual of these is the drop-in class, held each week PHIT is at the Shubin. Just $10, these classes provide a perfect intro to the art form. Check out their website for locations and new classes, many of which begin very soon.