Kseniya Simonova, (married name: Kseniya Simonova Paskar) is the 2009 winner of the TV contest Ukraine’s Got Talent, which is part of theGot Talent series. She is a performance artist in sand animation and a philanthropist.
Early life and family. She was born on April 22, 1985 in Evpatoriya, a town on the Crimean peninsula, in Ukraine. Her mother, Irina Simonova, is an artist, a theatrical designer and teacher of fine arts. Her father, Alexander Simonov, is former military officer who runs a business in furniture design. Since she was a child, Kseniya painted, drew and designed with her mother.
Kseniya’s parents didn’t want her to be an artist. Kseniya explained, “It is a constant struggle. I knew that, and was ready for it. If you chose this profession, you're struggling all your life. You do not enjoy everyday life - like comfort, and buying furniture... You're always looking for something more, and actually, I was never interested in a life of comfort and buying furniture.”
In 2007, she married Igor Paskar, a theater director and magazine editor. Their son Dmitry was born on November 27, 2007.
Education. She graduated from the Artistic School of Evpatoriya and studied in the School of Fine Arts. At school, Kseniya wrote research papers on English folk poetry and 15th and 16th century English folk songs and ballads. She also translated folk poetry and great poets like William Shakespeare, Robert Burns and George Gordon Byron. For her research work, Kseniya earned entrance to any University in Ukraine with English Philology Departments. In 2002, Kseniya chose a psychology major and graduated in 2007 from the Taurida National University with honors. Her scientific specialization was Psychophysiology – a sphere between Psychology and Anatomy. At the same time, in 2003, Kseniya entered the Ukrainian Academy of Printing and studied Graphic Design. She graduated in 2008, six months after giving birth to her son.
Working as an Artist. Since 2006 Kseniya has been working for a magazine “Crimean Riviera” as an artist. In 2007, Kseniya and her husband Igor Paskar, launched a bilingual magazine “Chocolate” in English and Russian. The magazine stopped production in 2008 due to the financial crisis.
The idea to do a sand performance was her husband's idea, who wanted to do a new theater project. At first Kseniya refused, “I immediately realized that this is very difficult to perform. It was sand – not pencils or paints. How can this be used as a drawing material?” At the same time, their financial situation was strained, with the magazine out of business and a baby to support. Simonova remembers, “I was terribly depressed. I had problems with lactation and somehow had to calm myself. Igor said, 'Either we will go crazy or let’s do something! What about the sand?' I said, 'Why not?'"
First, Kseniya used sand from the beach, but it was too uncomfortable for sand animation. Then they tried river sand, but that did not work. Igor spent days sitting at the computer looking for appropriate sand on the Internet and finally found it. There was a group of geologists selling a special volcanic sand, but it was too expensive. Igor had to sell all his printing equipment to buy 3 kilograms of sand.
Kseniya Simonova started practicing drawing with sand in a small dark room in a house they rented. She said it was so difficult that she wanted to give it up in three days. It was physically hard because she had to stand for long hours. Ksenyia trained at nights for three months. In the day she was a mother, doing what all mothers do – cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, playing with her son. From 10 pm to 4 am she was a sand artist. To realize the essence of sand animation, with its constant transformations of images, she had to retrain her vision and start seeing objects as they would appear in sand.
Winner of “Ukraine’s Got Talent”
Her husband, Igor, suggested that she should enter the competition Ukraine’s Got Talent, where the prize was one million hryvna, the equivalent of $110,000. Kseniya decided to enter.
She presented a two minute sand story and was selected as a semi-finalist. She wanted to perform a sand story about World War II, but the producers encouraged her to choose a more popular theme. Kseniya refused, saying, "I just want to bring some immortal sense to this show. Not just pictures or video clips.
to be continue...