The Susan Boyle of the East

Kseniya Simonova, the most recent winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent, has become an internet sensation since she won the competition last spring. It was the first season of the Ukrainian version of the show, and Simonova walked away with the equivalent of $125,000 as a prize.

She’s not a singer, dancer or actor, she’s an artist, a sand animator to be exact. Her talent involves an illuminated table which she covers in sand, drawing pictures in the sand that evolve into stories. The stories are set to music and are projected onto a large screen for the audience to see.

This article calls her the “Susan Boyle of the East” and I agree. Her videos are so enthralling; each one has a different, touching story. According to an article in The Telegraph, a YouTube video of her performance in the show’s finale has already gotten over 2 million viewer hits. The animations tells a story about how WWII affected citizens of the Soviet Union, and has brought many audience members to tears.


In case you’re wondering, the message she writes at the end translates to “You Are Always Near Me”

Although her art is not permanent, it is constantly changing and therefore able to tell a story. I love how she transitions from one image to the next, in one part of her finale performance she turns lampposts into the bars of a baby’s crib with just the brush of her hand. And she collaborates the music with it so well. The soundtrack to the performance above features a fight song from the Soviet Army, and a song commemorating victims of WWII. It’s clear she takes care to tie the entire performance together. Even her movements become more dramatic as the story unfolds.

I think it’s interesting that such a unique form of art won the competition. It’s not as refined as oil pastels or opera, but I think that it does just as good of a job at expressing emotion, which is in my opinion one of the key components of any type of art.