NYU Alumni Magazine Spring 2010

the insider

Best of New York

NYU faculty, staff, and alumni Offer up their Favorites

by Renée Alfuso / CAS ’06

Embrace autumn with apple picking upstate or try out some apps built for the big city

Street Smart Phones

With an app for just about everything, the days of using cell phones simply to make calls are numbered—just ask Shawn Van Every (TSOA ’04), who teaches mobile development at Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. “They’re becoming part of us,” he says. “We’re carrying around sophisticated little computers that add sensory capabilities to our daily existence.” The technology is especially handy for New Yorkers overwhelmed by so much to see and do. An app like UpNext, with its interactive 3-D maps, can help users explore the city for nearby attractions, venue info, and reviews. “We’re in a walking culture and we can multitask because we’re not driving around in our own little bubbles,” says Van Every, who carries multiple devices with more than 200 apps—ranging from a public bathroom finder (SitOrSquat) to a social media game that rewards loyal customers with discounts for frequent patronage (Foursquare, co-created by Dennis Crowley, TSOA ’04). To navigate the labyrinth-like subway, he uses iTrans NYC for train schedules, service advisories, and directions between stations—and it even works underground. But Van Every’s favorite app is Urbanspoon, which he recommends for discovering new restaurants. Just choose the cuisine, price point, and neighborhood, then shake the phone to start the screen whirling like a slot machine and up pop the eateries that match your appetite.

Apps available for download at apple.com/iTunes

Dance Revolution

Each year the massive Hindi-language film industry known as Bollywood releases hundreds of musicals in which a simple kiss isn’t enough—when two people fall in love onscreen, entire crowds break into splashy, elaborate dance numbers. The films still don’t translate to a wide American audience, but thanks to the success of last year’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood dance is one of the hottest new workouts in the West. To find out what makes the style so infectious, we sent our work-study student—and NYU dance team member—Elisabeth Brown (CAS ’11) to Dhoonya Dance in Chelsea. Since age 4, Brown has been classically trained in ballet, jazz, and hip-hop but says that she had no idea what to expect from her first lesson in Bollywood. The high-energy choreography is rooted in traditional Indian dance and incorporates forms such as kathak (storytelling), pop bhangra (Punjabi folk), and even yoga for a graceful yet upbeat style. The technique entails acting out the joy or love in a song with facial expressions and mudras (hand movements), so a simple motion can translate into blessing someone, as in the interpretive wedding scene Brown learned. “It was really cool to see that integration between the culture and the dance,” she says. Dhoonya Dance instructors are Bollywood experts—several even performed a routine on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009—but students can choose from a range of class levels. They also offer sessions for children, online classes by subscription, and discounts for NYU students. “It’s a really fun way to dabble in a new culture,” Brown says, “but it’s also a good form of exercise.”

Dhoonya Dance, 347-644-0052

Fall Harvest

What better way to celebrate autumn than the annual free apple festival at the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, New York? The city’s sole working historical farm offers hayrides, a three-acre corn maze, and pick-your-own-pumpkins throughout October—and it boasts the nation’s largest apple cobbler baked on site. However, for a harvest-season escape from the Big Apple, head two hours north to Stone Ridge Orchard. Greg Albanis (WSC ’78, WAG ’80), senior director of university events, has been visiting his weekend retreat in the Catskills for 14 years, always stopping at the orchard’s gourmet farm market to pick up apples and fresh-pressed cider. Stone Ridge has been farming the fruit for more than two centuries, and the mountain climate provides ideal growing conditions for their more than 1,000 trees. The sustainable farm also includes organic tomatoes and sweet corn, plus cherries, peaches, raspberries, and other fruits. What really makes it worth the schlep, however, is the pick-your-own-apples deal, with more than 13 varieties to choose from. In addition to usual suspects such as McIntosh and Golden Delicious, Stone Ridge offers Honeycrisp and Macoun, a Northeast niche apple rarely found in grocery stores. “It’s a nice day out because the orchard’s punctuated with streams and a lake, so you can bring a box lunch and have a picnic,” Albanis suggests.

3012 Route 213 in Stone Ridge, 845-687-2587 www.stoneridgeorchard.us

Editors’ Pick: Cocktail Cupcakes

The NYU Alumni Magazine office was buzzing about Butch Bakery, with its oversize cupcakes in one-of-a-kind flavors such as Rum & Coke and Mojito. So when we discovered that founder David Arrick was also an alum, it was the icing on the cupcake. Arrick (TSOA ’89) was working at a law firm on Wall Street when the economy collapsed in 2008 and he was laid off. Living in the West Village, where cupcake shops abound, and frustrated with his unemployment, he noticed the long lines outside Magnolia Bakery. “They were always busy and I thought, How can I get on the cupcake wagon?” Arrick remembers. So he decided to offer an alternative to the typical dainty cupcakes in pink and pastel hues. His “mancakes” come in sophisticated flavors such as Kahlúa-soaked vanilla cake with Baileys Bavarian filling, chocolate beer cake with crushed pretzels, and the nonalcoholic maple cake sprinkled with bits of bacon. All come topped in edible camouflage, wood grain, or marble. Until Arrick finds a downtown storefront, the delectable creations are only available online, but they will soon ship nationally and he’s planning to expand baking operations to Los Angeles and Chicago. “I didn’t realize how cutthroat the cupcake market is,” he says, “but there’s room for all of us.”

Butch Bakery, 646-221-3477