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Pop Culture

'AGT' contestant tells an incredibly moving story with her unique sand art

Even among all the extraordinary acts on "America's Got Talent," Kseniya Simonova stands out.

Kseniya Simonova agt, agt all stars, sand art, Kseniya Simonova  sand art
America's Got Talent/YouTube

Kseniya Simonova tells a moving story using only the sand in her hands.

Usually, it’s singing, dancing and magic acts that take the lion’s share of applause on “America’s Got Talent.” But every once in a while, more out-of-the-box performances take the spotlight.

Kseniya Simonova, a Ukrainian sand animation artist, makes it onto that list.

Simonova, who won the title for “Ukraine's Got Talent” in 2009 and was a finalist for other “Got Talent” seasons, returned for the first ever “America's Got Talent: Fantasy League,” where fan favorite contestants form teams under each of the judges: Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell.


For this performance, titled “Follow your Dreams,” Simonova told a sweeping, poignant and heartfelt story honoring the love between a mother and her son—using only the sand in her hands.

In only a couple of minutes, a phone turns into a house, then into two faces, then into two figures, then into a boy looking out of the window and into the sky, then a rocket and finally an astronaut in space. It’s pretty unreal.

Watch:

Not only did Simonova receive a standing ovation from the audience, but praises from three of the four judges, with Howie Mandel calling her work “an amazing, emotional work of artistry.” Simon Cowell also commended her, saying, "no one else in the world can do what you can do.”

Online viewers seemed to agree and found Simonova to be one-of-a-kind.

“I always love these types of acts. Something unique that you don’t often see but can clearly see the talent and skill that it takes to perform,” one person wrote on YouTube.

Another added, “An incredible talent. Such an original and unique form of artistry!”

Not only is sand animation a rare art form, it’s also a fairly new one. According to the site Animation Explainers, it’s only been around since 1968, when artist Caroline Leaf manipulated beach sand on a lightbox for each frame of her film, “Sand or Peter and the Wolf.”

Animation Explainers also has a great passage about why sand animation is intriguing, saying, “The beauty of sand animation lies in that it only lasts for a short moment. It is a fragile form and often evokes very impassioned responses in viewers.”

If that doesn’t sum up the raw beauty of Simonova’s art, I don’t know what does.

By the way, if you’d like to see even more of Simonova’s sand animations, check out her website. You can also find a full length version of “Follow Your Dreams” here.

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