Perm, in the far-off Urals, was Diaghilev's birthplace. And it was to Perm that the Kirov Ballet and School were evacuated when the German army closed in on Leningrad in 1941. In Perm, the Kirov artists danced and the school fed its numbers by recruiting local children for training. This implanting of the best traditions of Russian academic dance gave impetus to ballet in Perm, still evident today in the style of the city's troupe, the Tchaikovsky Perm Ballet.
The company is large, and fields the old classics and modern work, not least choreographies by Balanchine, and tours extensively. At the weekend I saw the two closing performances of a season at the Rai Theatre in Amsterdam. Inevitably, Swan Lake . The fascination was in seeing how the company responded to Natalya Makarova's handsome production, for it is a version grown from the understanding of one of the greatest interpreters of its central role.