The Northern Ballet Company trust on Yamaha RIVAGE PM3 digital mixing systems

The Nothern Ballet is usually described as one of the UK’s foremost narrative ballet companies. Its base is on Leeds, but this company is a touring ballet company. Recently, the Northern Ballet has invested in two Yamaha RIVAGE PM3 digital mixing systems. They have been using Yamaha for several seasons and this new pair has got their showcase release on the world premiere of the ballet Merlin, which started its tour at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

“As a touring company, reliability is of primary importance and we’ve always been really happy with Yamaha in that regard,” says Steve Wilkins, the ballet’s technical director. “We’ve only ever lost one fader and socket through touring damage, whereas experience of other manufacturers’ consoles showed them to be less reliable. So, when we needed to upgrade, we were more than happy to stay with Yamaha.”

The system needed to cover a wide range of bases, including venues ranging from studio theatres to large arenas, be adaptable to any kind of production, allow on site recording and be used with any number of musicians. That is why Steve Wilkins asked to Alastair West, the System Designer of the Northern Ballet, for these necessities. Also, they needed to get adapted to every possible size. “Apart from PA – we use house systems or rent in for bigger productions – as a company we are completely self-contained for touring. Keeping the flightcased size of the mixing system as small as possible for transport was as important as the control surfaces taking up minimal space in smaller venues,” says technician Sam Day.

The ballet invested in this pair of Yamaha RIVAGE PM3 to achieve that flexibility. In small venues it’s not always possible to put a control surface in the traditional FoH position, so here the surface can be put in a backstage room and controlled by Yamaha’s StageMix app.

As well as delivering the main mix, the system provides foldback for the dancers and the feeds for personal monitors for the musicians. “Every instrument is miked up to facilitate both recording and personal monitoring. We can put Perspex screens between the musicians and really control noise levels for them, letting them mix their own monitors and reducing the possibility of hearing damage,” says Alastair.

“At any stage we have the facility to record any performance and the system’s flexibility allows to do virtual soundchecks in venues where the orchestra has to be accommodated away from the stage, remote from the dancers. Using this technique, the conductor can come out front to hear the music and make any changes they need to.”

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