English National Ballet

  • ENB headquarters at City Island
    ENB headquarters at City Island

English National Ballet, City Island, London

Formed in 1950, the English National Ballet is of one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world. Having outgrown its premises in west London, new headquarters were commissioned at the City Island development in the regenerated Docklands area. The impressive new building houses a theatre sized production rehearsal studio with a 26m high fly tower, along with numerous other work and relaxation spaces.

Artistic Licence was brought in by electrical contractor, Lund Roberts,  to achieve an elegant method by which the main theatre house lighting could be controlled by either an architectural DALI controller, or the DMX512 production lighting console. The most significant challenge in switching DALI circuits between two different controllers is to ensure that they do not detect loss of data which would cause them to go to their emergency state. In addition, the architectural DALI controller drives emergency DALI lighting which must not be switched into production lighting control.

12 circuits of DALI were used for the theatre house lighting which includes backstage and above stage areas. Numerous types of DALI fixture were used, with approximately 20 fixtures per circuit. The Simmtronic DALI control system was chosen to provide architectural control with numerous keypads installed at strategic locations. Artistic Licence developed the interface for switching between architectural and production needs using its DIN rail products: Rail-Switch, DMXtoDALI quad and daliPSU quad. DMXtoDALI quad, as the name suggests, converts DMX512 from the production lighting console to DALI. Rail-Switch is a relay which is triggered by DMX512; this allowed the production lighting console to switch over DALI control between the Simmtronic controllers and production desk.

Equally important is to ensure that control fails-over to the Simmtronic system in the event that the production desk is disconnected or loses power. This was achieved using the programmable fail-over mode in Rail-Switch.

Using DALI on this project allowed emergency and house lighting to be combined, with a sophisticated network of control panels. The project made major use of DALI group addressing in the conversion between DMX512 and DALI. This allowed responsive real-time control from the production console, thus overcoming the inherent speed differences between the two protocols.

The house lighting in this project has 3 core purposes: to illuminate the seating area for audience ingress and egress; to illuminate the space during rehearsals; and to illuminate strategic backstage overhead and fly tower areas during the production. The DALI control system, along with the sophisticated control switching by Artistic Licence, address all of these needs.