Kseniya Simonova – Stories in Sand
As the 2009 winner of the popular television contest Ukraine’s Got Talent, sand painter Kseniya Simonova revealed her extraordinary talent to fellow Ukrainians, receiving a standing ovation for her performance. Thanks to the internet this innovative artist has gained worldwide recognition, and with the upcoming EuroVision Song Contest in Düsseldorf during May, Kseniya will be providing a moving backdrop for the Ukrainian singing sensation, Mika Newton, as she performs her hit song Angel.
Born on April 22, 1985, in the Crimean peninsula town of Yevpatoria, Kseniya Simonova developed a love of art from a young age, painting, drawing and designing along with her mother who is also an artist. Despite her parents advising against it, being an artist was important to Kseniya and this is the career path she chose, graduating from the Artistic School of Yevpatoria and studying at the School of Fine Arts. Her education was not restricted to art, and Kseniya majored in psychophysiology, graduating from Ukraine’s Tavrida National V.I. Vernadsky University with honors in 2007. She has also conducted research on ancient English folk song, poetry and ballads, and has translated classic works by Robert Burns, William Shakespeare and George Gordon Byron.
Kseniya married theater director Igor Paskar in 2007, giving birth to their son Dmitry in November of that year. It was Igor’s idea to develop sand painting as a theater performance, and so followed months of experimentation with various types of sand, with Kseniya spending many hours developing her talent – not an easy task for a young mother taking care of a child and seeing to household chores. Nevertheless, her perseverance paid off, and with her husband encouraging her, Kseniya entered the 2009 season of Ukraine’s Got Talent. Her two-minute sand story presentation got her through to the semi-finals where she went against the producers suggestions to perform a popular contemporary theme and chose to tell the heart-wrenching story of a young couple separated by World War II. Her performance moved the audience to tears and earned her a standing ovation along with a place among the finalists. For her final performance, Kseniya chose another touching, and all too real tale – that of a son who attained success, and forgot his parents. She got her point across and says that she has had people thanking her for reminding them of the importance of their parents. Kseniya won first place and became an online celebrity with the video of her performance being viewed more than a million times in a single day.
Kseniya has continued to amaze and entertain audiences as she has performed more than two hundred of her fascinating sand stories in her home country of Ukraine, as well as in Russia, Norway, Japan, Poland, China, Austria, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Qatar, Italy, India, Switzerland, Germany, and Kazakhstan. Clearly, in our fast-paced technology-driven world, people still appreciate the incredible talent of artists such as Kseniya Simonova – turning a handful of sand into a memorable story.