Better Than Epcot

Westchester’s cultural centers will have you going around the world in 80 events.

Who wants to live in a melting pot? There’s no need to settle for homogeny when it’s much more interesting to experience a variety of cultures. Luckily, our county is home to a few cultural centers designed to do just that. Whether you want to dance the Céili or the Bharata Natyam, make green tea or gnocchi, or play the tabla or the tin whistle, these local centers have the classes you might be looking for.

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Dragon and Crane:
An American-Chinese Cultural Center

481 Rte 202/Stoneleigh Ave, Somers
(914) 669-0888
Master John Scattaretico oversees the operations in this wooded studio, which he re-designed to be reminiscent of the Shao-lin Temple in China (complete with good Feng Shui). The focus here is martial arts: Tai Chi, Shao Lin, and Kardio Kung Fu for adults and after-school martial arts and Kung Fu for kids. Still, Dragon and Crane offers studies in other types of movement, including Mulan fan dancing, ballroom dancing, yoga, archery, meditation, Chinese dance classes, and—our favorite—therapeutic massage. All of that works up a mighty hunger, so you might want to stick around for the Saturday-night Chinese cooking classes—and on Mondays there’s a language class, too, so you can learn to translate the menu.

India Center of Westchester
249 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford
(914) 909-2231
India Center president Ralph D’Souza says the India Center of Westchester includes “Indian Americans from all regions of India and really represents its many cultures and religions.” It makes sense, then, to offer classes in a slew of languages, including Telgu, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Hindi. Languages at the India Center aren’t just spoken, they’re sung, too, with classes available for Carnatic, Hindustani, and other classical or semi-classical vocal styles. (You can also learn to back up these singers on the sitar and tabla, or with Bharata Natyam or Kathak dance.) Cool down with a little yoga, or pick things back up on one of the Center’s Bollywood dance nights. Check out a concert by sitar player Partha Bose, accompanied by table player Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, at the Irvington Town Hall Theater on April 11.

Tara Circle
1097 N Broadway, Yonkers
(914) 964-8272
A bit of the Emerald Isle in Yonkers, Tara Circle finds its home on a verdant six-acre campus that includes Alder Manor, a registered national landmark. There, you can get ready for next St. Patrick’s day by learning to dance the Céili or play the bagpipes, bodhrán, fiddle, guitar, organ, or whistle. Trace your Irish roots with its geneology workshops, or learn about the Dublin of James Joyce with a class built around the writer’s The Dubliners. Classes are offered in September and March and run for ten weeks.

Westchester Italian Cultural Center
1 Generoso Pope Pl, Tuckahoe
(914) 771-8700
From great foods to mangia to Anna Magnani, you’ll find yourself exposed to all aspects of Italian culture here. The WICC offers programs in Italian cinema (catch Ciao Professore with Pace professor Aldo Belardo on April 17), opera (performers from the Metropolitan Opera sing Neapolitan pieces from the golden age on May 7), history (NYU prof Antonio Rutigliano lectures on the women of Southern Italy on April 3), and language for adults and children. But, let’s face it, we’re all interested in the food: the Center’s wine cellar is stocked with wines from all 20 Italian winemaking regions, and the kitchen—designed for teaching—is often home to visiting Italian chefs who host cooking demonstrations. Don’t miss the event on April 27, when Zuppa’s chefs host a five-course wine dinner.


Photo courtesy of dragon and crane

GOOD CHI: Tai Chi at Dragon and Crane in Somers

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