Visionary 20th-century German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, something of an astrology nut, liked to claim he’d been born on a planet orbiting Sirius. So it’s apt that, in Melissa Thodos’s Aries, trumpeter Stephen Burns plays strands from Stockhausen’s “Tierkreis” (“Zodiac”) to spur 12 dancers to movement, each representing an astrological sign. An unsettling sense of detachment flows from these fantastically complex and broken melodies, yet the historical moment the dance traces is one of ascendance. A prolonged, anticipatory stretch from Burns, playing his horn onstage amid the action, gives way to dancers combining and breaking apart like elements in combustion. With a cry from the trumpet, the universe is born.
Aries, a revival, is part of a retrospective marking 15 years for Burns’s Fulcrum Point New Music Project, including ten in collaboration with Thodos Dance Chicago. Sybil Shearer’s In a Vacuum, a solo set to an arrangement for trumpet and piano from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, is another joint effort in its second incarnation. While some of the reprised choreography has been reworked—Thodos encourages dancers to tweak her formula and generate new movement in rehearsal—the “new” component of the program is a Thodos premiere featuring marimba performances by Doug Perkins and Greg Beyer.