The founder of Shahira Dance Show tells fascinating stories with her latest film, the documentary The Ghost of Scheherazade
Loads of creative energy and an original style tirelessly spread into new and new spheres of art: this sums in short an astonishing woman, Katerina Borisova, a Bulgarian film director and dancer. Art is her element; all her life it has flown freely from the performing arts to the storytelling behind the camera. Katerina Borisova prefers to describe herself as an artist and an entrepreneur and dislikes framing her ideas into preliminary set borders. Instead, she enjoys finding the new in the synthesis of arts and applying it in her original projects or the ones she creates for the clients.
An alumni from the Bulgaria's National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, in 2015 Katerina Borisova established Semperia Films – a boutique production company. A little bit later followed the dance brand "Shahira". Shahira Dance Show reveals the beauty and art of bellydance to thousands of people through lessons, seminars and courses, thematic shows and programmes for weddings, parties, team buildings, and dedicated retreats.
How are you able to combine two professions: of a dance and show performer, and of a film director?
When you trust your inner impulse and follow your passion, everything comes into its place. In our fragmented world it seems that we strive to know in advance everything, and in great detail at that. We think that this will make us happy. It will not. We are taught that we have to make an "either-or" choice, but sometimes, despite everything, the answer is "and" instead. I learned that the magic of life happens only when you take some risk.
I am happy that I found my true vocation beyond frames and borders. The world changed for me when I found meaning in using my dance and film art to motivate people towards self growth. I was not questioning myself anymore of who exactly I was. My personal expression was not limited to one profession or activity and I stopped self-blaming myself for that.
How is this reflected in your latest film project, The Ghost of Scheherazade?
The movie is a modern documentary tale about tolerance. It is about Arab artists who live and create in Bulgaria. My choice of people and stories somewhat instinctively focused on musicians mostly. Because music is the shortest way to the heart. It is the main medium that allows us to connect to one another, to transcend our cultural, geographical, and religious differences. For me, music is the universal human language.
In this regard, the documentary follows the life journeys of the main characters and reveals more about their art style and influences.
Each of the artists have chosen Bulgaria as a second home for their individual reasons. What unites them is their sense of creative and personal freedom.
There are, of course, prejudices against these "different" people, but this was yet another reason for me to tell their stories and to show how easy it is to learn to value the differences when focused on the beauty of what they create.
You have another cinema-related educational project, CineYouth, funded by Erasmus+. Who are its target audiences?
In the past two years, together with an international team, we worked on the creation of a free digital platform with gamified information about 18 cinema-related professions, quizzes and mentors' videos. The project is designed for young colleagues making their first steps into the film industry, but also for social workers who want to use an innovative method to teach social skills to audiences such as disadvantaged people, minorities and other vulnerable groups. Otherwise, literally anyone could visit and try the quizzes on the platform – www.cinemator.eu.
You have turned your passion, bellydance, into a popular business. What are your most interesting services?
"Shahira" is my dance brand. I never stopped dancing and this became the second career path in my life... Apart from creating thematic shows for team buildings, private events and parties, we do dance retreats, camps and trips in Bulgaria and abroad. Our latest dance trip was to the Maldives. So, it is a great way to travel and at the same time improve your dance skills.
Can you put a line where your art ends and your business begins?
For me, both art and entrepreneurial ideas know no borders or limits, and effortlessly blend into each other. For example, in 2024 together with our partners from CATRO Bulgaria, an HR consultancy company, I am planning to organise a business holiday in another exotic place. This time focusing on boosting our brain's work and presentational skills in front of the camera and in public. Nowadays, such skills are getting increasingly more important not only to managers, but also to employers, too.