WOMAN OF THE WORLD, A: ARMEN OHANIAN, THE "DANCER OF SHAMAKHA"
By Vartan Matiossian and Artsvi Bakhchinyan
A Woman of the World is a fascinating chronicle of the life of dancer and author Armen Ohanian (1888-1976). She was born in an Armenian family in the Caucasus and ended her days in Mexico after living an eventful life cloaked in mystery. She bridged multiple cultures as an actress in the Caucasus, a theater director in Persia, a writer in France, and a translator in Mexico. Above all she was an acclaimed dancer from Asia to Africa, from Europe to America with the monikers “dancer of Shamakha” and “the Persian dancer.” Ohanian became a model for painters and sculptors, and many famous contemporaries left testimony of her in their correspondence, memoirs, and reminiscences. She was a well-educated woman fluent in half a dozen languages—truly a “Woman of the World,” who lived through times and places as diverse as the Russian Caucasus, the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, the Belle Époque in France, the Roaring Twenties in the United States, the early Soviet Union, and post-revolutionary Mexico. Armen Ohanian’s life across borders, languages, and cultures – she wrote in four languages, Armenian, Russian, French, and Spanish, and her works were published in no less than fourteen countries – highlights some of the elements that are intertwined with the concept of diaspora: transnationalism, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and a multifaceted understanding of homeland. Using a rich variety of archival and printed sources, this biography offers scholars and readers in general new insights into Oriental dance, cultural studies, gender studies, diaspora studies, and other subjects.
Volume 16 in the Armenian Series, Barlow Der Mugrdechian, General Editor
The Press at California State University, Fresno (2022)