ESCtakeover are proud to present an exclusive interview with Got Talent and Eurovision sand artist star Kseniya Simonova, from Ukraine. You can find out more about her here.
First of all, how are you doing? You’ve just performed in Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions and made it all the way to third! Congratulations.
Thank you! It was a long hard work, but bringing me lots of joy. I performed brand new sand stories I specially created for this show. I’m happy British people liked them. Art can change the world. If my art dud some changes, it’s great. Unfortunately I came to London on shootings being very ill, I had bad flue but anyway wanted to perform. The night I left for London, I could die. A few hours before the flight I sprayed a medicine against the sore-throat into my mounts and inmeadiatelly stopped breathing. It was allergy fir this medicine. I never experienced anything like that before, I’m pretty healthy person. It’s horrible. I mean I couldn’t make a breath at all. I ran to the street hoping fresh air could help me make a breath. No. I realized I’m dying, it was very quickly, I understood no one , no emergency will come so quickly. I wasn’t even afraid, it was so rapidly. My husband managed to save me. I finally could breath but very badly. I felt so bad after that, as if I was beaten. I went to bed and was there until the flight time which was at night. I realized that night that our life is a moment. And our life is such a gentle creature. I made myself stand up and go to plane. Of course before the flight I spoke to a doctor and he gave me anti allergy treatment. In the morning I was in London. My throat was burning. My voice was horrible. I was afraid it will be evident at the profile videos or when I’ll be talking to judges but luckily nobody noticed. I didn’t want to tell that on TV as I don’t like when people are telling their problems on shows and look like poor things. The show is about art not my problems. I realized after that that the human body can be very strong. I mean if you have goal, it obeys. I managed to control my voice and coughing. On the final I totally lost my voice. But my husband was giving me tea and milk with honey and for the showtime I could speak. The biggest lesson I got after all this story that I’m supported by my husband (of course I knew it before), and he’ll never give me up. It’s a happy lesson.
You’ve just worked with the Moldovan delegation on this year’s Eurovision. How did the Eurovision 2011 experience compare to this year’s show?
Totally different. In 2011 I was just a freelance performer and I didn’t do the staging. Mika sang – I drew. It was a vacation comparing to 2019 where I did all staging – from shooting directions to light and backdrop. And also performed a genre which is much more complicated comparing to sand animation. This so called snow art is very different. I was in touch with Marvin Diettman almost every day in the period of April before we arrived. I created not only my show art story but a scenario for the cameras – which camera goes on which minute. Lighting scenario. Unfortunately despite high professionalism of the ESC team they didn’t fulfill our staging camera/lighting plan although they said it was approved and possible. I don’t know why. There were very many singers and staging producers except us and of course it was difficult for the ESC production. I was very sad when I realized nothing will be changed in the shooting plan what we asked according to our scenarios. Now I am better. Time heals. But anyway I dream to show someday the real staging of STAY, how it had to look.
Why did you return to the Eurovision Song Contest after eight years?
I love it. It’s a great experience.
Did you have time to explore Tel Aviv whilst at Eurovision? If so, what are your thoughts?
Oh yes. Thanks to my classmate Olga and her husband who live near Tel Aviv. They have their travel agency called Golden Royal tours and all free time I had they brought me to the best places surrounding. They know so much, I was all ears. They told me the history, the current events of the places I’ve been to. The deepest impression was of course Jerusalem, cause I’m a believer and it’s very important for me. Then Jaffo. It was a night tour and it was incredible! Real adventure!
How did you learn sand art? When did you know you had a big passion for it?
My life is full of miracles. I always read a lot, and my visual fantasy worked a lot. I drew pictures since I was a kid. But never thought that sand can be a story teller. And I also never thought I can ever perform on a stage. I was an artist and received two educations : Art, and Psychology. Since I was 21, I started working as an illustrator in a magazine and was very proud of it. There I met my husband, actually, no, it was he who invited me to work in the magazine. He was an editor. But he also was a theatric director and had a private theatre . He was dreaming to create an amazing show and wanted to use sand. He asked me: ‘Would you like to try drawing with sand?’ I said ‘What? Is it possible?’. ‘Everything is possible’ – he replied. But I refused. And it appeared I was the only person, the only artist who refused as many people thought it was very easy. Then we married and started our own magazine called “Chocolate”. We were very happy and proud with it. Unfortunately during the financial crisis in autumn 2008 it stopped. All I did stopped. I have put my heart in this magazine. So I had a big depression and one day my husband Brought sand, found s glass and said: that’s your new life. Your new air. Instead of your magazine. Breath it. Live it. And I started. Just as a hobby. As a new air to breath. In two months I entered the casting fir Ukraine’s Got talent. In half year after that I won the show. I happily found a material which can transfer all my dreams and stories into life. Since I won UGT, I became international performer and perform all over the world. My life has changed after I won the show. Totally. I think I am s kind of an example when winning in Got Talent changes life abs career. Since I won I immediately received hundreds of invitations to perform at different events in different countries of the world, and still it is the same , although 10 years passed. I have performed fir many Royalty : Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, HRH Princess Marie of Denmark, Royal Family of Thailand and HRH Princess Sirindhorn, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan as well as King Father and Royal Family of Bhutan. Royal Family of Morocco. Presidents of Malta, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and others. I have twice performed at Eurovision in 2011 and 2019 as staging act for Ukraine and Moldova. Performed at the Closing Ceremony of Special Olympic Games in Athens. Performed with YouTube Symphony orchestra in Sydney Opera House, with National Belgium orchestra, and others . Wrote two books. Shot many sand films abc got awards on film festivals. Received the title of the Merited artist of Ukraine. My art is my world. I’m totally in it, I put my heart in sand. I deeply feel all these stories. I am liv the life of my heroes. I’m always afraid to cry when I perform. If a tear falls down on the glass surface, it will spoil the performance. The sand will stick. That’s why I cry alone when no one sees me.
How long do you spend practising sand art?
It very much depends. If you mean preparing for each show. From a day to a few months.
What has been your favourite sand/snow performance?
I think, performing on Special Olympic Games closing ceremony in Athens. It was a very deep impression. 60,000 viewers watching your live performances in the Olympic stadium where’re the Olympic Games of the new time first started…
When you’re not performing, how do you like to relax?
I love reading. It calms me. Good tea and good book are a great time before I go to bed. I draw and paint. There were already 3 exhibitions of my picture which travel round the world. That’s what I love. I wrote books – there are two of them already published and I’m working on a new one. But most of all I enjoy being with my kids, hanging out together, watching good films, reading together.
What are your future plans?
There are very many upcoming things. I perform a lot in the world. I perform a lot in the USA. This fall a show with my digital presence us launching there , if us called “The Forgotten Kingdom “. In February I’m performing in Canada with a great Vancouver Symphony orchestra. I’m taking part in a big tv show in Romania. And very soon, on October 19th I’m having my own show in London! Happy if you come! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS.
And finally, Do you have a message for your fans around the world?
BE YOURSELF AND NEVER GIVE UP.
We would like to take this oppurtunity to give the biggest thank you to Kseniya for taking her time to be part of our interview. We hope you enjoyed our interview.
You can also learn more about Kseniya in our new exclusive article by clicking here.