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Dancing Water Theatre Takes On Bolero

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The House of Dancing Water is a breathtaking in-the-round water show created by the Franco Dragone Entertainment Group for Macau's City of Dreams entertainment complex. Designed by Pei Partnership Architects, the architectural firm behind the iconic glass and metal Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the state-of-the-art Dancing Water Theatre created for The House of Dancing Water features a 40-meter-high steel-trussed space that provides the generous heights required for the show's diving and acrobatics elements. The theater's stage pool holds a record-breaking 3.7 million gallons of water, equivalent to five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The show itself centers on an epic love story and journey through time, showcasing mesmerizing special effects; dazzling costumes; and breathtaking acrobatics, artistic, and aerial performances. The performance relies on 20 divers working in the pool during the show, 342 lift-shifted panels that allow the stage to go from pool to dry stage in less than a minute, and five automation consoles that give performers 100 different ways to fly through the theater space.

Producing a show as complex and spectacular as The House of Dancing Water is not possible without reliable, stable, and flexible communications between and among cast and crew members. For this reason, the show has extended its in-house communications capabilities with a new wireless intercom system. Citing the quality and flexibility of Riedel's Artist digital matrix intercom system, which has been in operation at the theater since 2009, the team from Dragone Macau Limited opted to invest in Riedel Communications' Bolero for its wireless comms upgrade. Bolero provides comprehensive, reliable, and fully integrated wireless capabilities that leverage the facility’s existing Artist system.

An expandable, DECT-based, wireless intercom system in the license-free 1.9GHz frequency range, Bolero operates seamlessly within the Artist platform. Decentralized antennas connect Bolero to AES67 IP network switches and then to Artist frames equipped with AES67 client cards, providing a fully integrated point-to-point intercom ecosystem with seamless handover capabilities. To the system, the beltpacks look just like Riedel panels but are wireless, providing the highest levels of flexibility and programmability.

Programming flexibility is extremely important for the production, and Bolero will enable the team to customize the system to meet the needs of individuals and departments. Riedel’s Director software enables intuitive management and configuration of the system while also facilitating real-time system monitoring by the sound department.

Bolero itself offers the theater's production crew and performers a rich set of features and connectivity that can be applied as a wireless beltpack, as a wireless keypanel, and as a walkie-talkie radio. The system’s high-clarity voice codec provides the high speech intelligibility, and its more efficient use of RF spectrum supports twice the number of beltpacks per antenna for the same audio bandwidth as other DECT-based systems.

Motocross stunt riders and acrobatic performers, coupled with the technical teams, use the newly extended intercom system for continual communication during the show. The Bolero/Artist combination plays a vital role even in the aquatics area, supporting communications with performers and underwater-performer handlers in the pool via underwater speakers, in-mask communications systems, and buddy phones.

The ecent deployment of the extended Riedel-based communications infrastructure is the result of a collaborative effort between Dragone Macau Limited Head of Sound Nicolas Hammond and Assistant Head of Sound David Sharrock, with the support of The House of Dancing Water sound team. The new Bolero system went live in June, complementing existing Riedel infrastructure, including two Artist 64 frames and two Artist 32 frames.

This article is also available in the July edition of Broadcast Film & Video. Available here.
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