Black and White

Black and White

Year: 1988

Title: Black and White

Heading: for orchestra (ballet)

Movement Titles:
(in seven movements)

First Performance:
7 May 1988
NY State Theatre, New York, New York
Peter Martins (choreographer), / New York City Ballet / David Alan Miller

3(II,III=picc).2.corA.2.bcl.3 stick/SD/tamb/BD/marimba/wdbl/SD sticks/claves/bongos/tom-t/cyms/ susp.cym/t.bellspft(=cel)harpsampling synthesizeroptional electric bassstrings

Duration: 24'

Black and White...impresses through sheer vitality and raw power.
—Los Angeles Herald Examiner

It was harsh and jagged, yet simultaneously accessible; Stravinsky synthesized with show music. Torke's changing meters and intense rhythmic pulse made for a very personal statement
—Ballet Review

Program Notes:
Black and White was commissioned by Peter Martins for New York City Ballet's American Music Festival in 1988. It was the first of four commissions written for that company, but it was actually the second project completed, as Ecstatic Orange (with its commissioned second movement, Purple) had its premiere in 1987.

Its seven movements explore a greater range of character and mood, expanding the musical color further than previous pieces of mine, where the concern was a single color and single dramatic sweep. The title describes that lack of obsession with a single color, and refers to the choreographic juxtaposition of black and white costumed dances in various combinations almost like a chess game.

After the simply stated introduction, three fast movements use the entire cast of dancers, while in the three slow movements that follow four principles are used, then only two, and then four again, expressing more intimate moods. All of this is followed by the last movement, more than twice as long as any before, which has the most energy, bringing back all the dancers for an exuberant finish.