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Flutes, Violins, Belly Dancers and Boxing Fuse at Gleason's Gym in DUMBO

By Janet Upadhye | March 15, 2013 2:30pm

DUMBO — The combination is odd to say the least. But to composer Dan Barrett boxing and music go hand in hand.

"Boxing has one of the most rigorous patterns of motion in its step," he said. "It is the same beat one needs to know to play music."

Barrett is the director of "Strike!," the latest show by the music ensemble The International Street Cannibals.  In it, boxers and dancers move to the beat of chamber music in the sweaty center of Gleason's Gym, the place where greats like Muhammad Ali, Jake LaMotta, Roberto Duran and Benny “Kid” Paret once trained.

"Strike!" is exemplary of the purpose of The International Street Cannibals.  It was founded in 2005 by seasoned musicians and composers to create "a laboratory for ritual and artistic expression that defies assumptions regarding performance spaces and audiences."

The boxers in "Strike!" are kids ranging from 11 to 17 training at the gym.

"There is a definite beauty in these kids," Barrett said. "Watching them makes the music sound different."

The stage is the ring. The show is composed of short sets of music that move from one ring to the next around the gym with audience members following the progression of music.

And to top off the strange melange of artistic stimulants, belly and tap dancers accompany the boxers in the ring, dancing to the beat of chamber music and the grunts of boxers.

"Strike!" takes place Saturday, March 16 at 8 P.M. at Gleason's Gym in DUMBO.