The Dancer of Sahmakha

by Website Editors | Jul 18, 2017

Our Recommended Reading for Children & Young Adults and Recommended Reading for Adults articles have been popular resources for readers interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Here is a brief overview of The Dancer of Sahmakha.

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Author: Armen Ohanian (translated from French by Rose Wilder Lane)
Publisher: Forgotten Books (April 23, 2017)

“I danced in the fire –
Behold me, the Flame!
I danced in abysses –
Behold me, the Wind!”
[Excerpt from The Dancer of Shamarkha].

About the Author: Armen Ohanian
Armen Ohanian (1887-1976), dancer, writer, and actress, was born into an upper class Armenian family. Her family moved to Baku after a destructive earthquake where she attended a Russian school. She began her acting career at the Armenian Dramatic Theatre of Baku in 1907. After moving to Moscow she studied plastic arts at the Nelidova School and performed her first dances at the Maly Theatre. During her career she performed around the world, touring in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, and Mexico. Her travels inspired her choreography for Oriental dances, especially the music of Armenia and Iran, and she created her own style of “free dance.” She settled in Mexico City with her second husband where she created a school of dance.

While living in Paris she began writing and The Dancer of Shamarkha was one of her first literary works. Also active politically, she was a member of the Mexican Communist Party and in 1946 published Happy Armenia, a book on Soviet Armenia in Spanish.  Dancing well into her sixties, Ohanian appeared on the stage in Paris in 1949 and 1953. She continued to write, translate, and publish in Mexico and in 1969 came out with a first volume of her memoirs in Spanish.

About the Translator: Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968), was a prolific fiction writer, biographer and political theorist, as well as the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series of children’s books. Lane’s skillful editing and publishing connections assisted her mother in making the transition from rural Ozark journalist to world-renowned children’s author. Lane had left her parent’s impoverished Missouri farm at the age of 17 and soon began to make her mark on the world.

After a stint as a Western Union telegrapher, Rose sold real estate in California and later began a successful career as a reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin. Her 1918 divorce from Gillette Lane, after several years of separation, officially ended a relationship that had never recovered from the death of an infant son around 1910. She never remarried. After her divorce, Lane continued to carve out a successful career as a writer of novels, short stories, biographies and tales of her extensive world travels. Her work as a war correspondent dated from post-WWI Europe to a tour of Vietnam in 1965 (when she was nearly 80 years old). She was a well-known literary figure of her day.

Later in life, Lane’s writing focused on her increasing political conservatism, her distaste of Communism, Socialism and any other form of government that denied the freedom of the individual. She is widely regarded as one of the leading figures behind what has grown into the American Libertarian Party. Among her many works are Free Land, Young Pioneers, Diverging Roads, and Give Me Liberty.

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