The Dance of Hands and Magic of Images: Sand Show Comes to London

Famous stories are brought to life in various ways: through plays, films, cartoons, sculptures, and even puppet shows. Among these, sand animation has emerged as a relatively new medium, where the action unfolds through the skilled hand movements of the artist, with stories appearing and vanishing right before our eyes. On April 28, Alyona Voynova will present a sand show in London, bringing to life the story of “The Little Prince” and scenes from “Scheherazade” — Afisha.London magazine delves into why this rare performance in the UK is a must-see.


The Swiss duo Ernest and Gisele Ansorge can be considered the forebears of this art form, having used sand technique for animation films as early as 1958. In 1969, Canadian director and animator Caroline Leaf introduced the sand story “Sand, or Peter and the Wolf” to the public, but the concept of sand animation as a show was first presented by Hungarian director and artist Ferenc Cakó at the SICAF International Cartoon & Animation Festival in Seoul in 2003. Since then, this art form has garnered many followers worldwide, including Alyona Voynova.



Alyona Voynova received a classical art education but always gravitated towards innovation in creativity. In 2006, after first witnessing sand animation by Israeli artist Ilana Yahav in the music video for Dato Khujadze’s “Mahindjavar,” she fell in love with this new experimental art form. The hand movements and transformation of images, stories emerging and immediately dissolving, inspired her so much that she began to self-study the art of sand animation, as there were no schools or textbooks on sand animation at the time.


Photo: Alyona Voynova


Alyona’s talent has allowed her to tour various countries with sand shows, marking her presence in major projects. For instance, the artist created projections on the Concert Hall building and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, performed with large symphony orchestras, and collaborated with Cirque du Soleil.


“Sand animation is a magical dance of hands and sand that creates visual stories from imagination, synthesizing everything I love about art — the ability to tell a story, create an emotion, surprise, and delight the audience,” shares Alyona.



Working with sand is beneficial not only for developing fine motor skills, imagination, and concentration in children but also serves as meditation for adults. In psychology, there is a method of sand therapy that helps people calm down, harmonize their psycho-emotional state. Moreover, not only direct work with sand but also watching a sand show has a therapeutic effect: the combination of musical and visual arts relaxes and provides a sense of peace, making the “Sand Tales” on April 28 an event for both families with children and adults who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the digital world and switch to something beautiful.


“The main goal of the upcoming tour for me — not only as a producer but also as a mom — is to make a show with an anti-stress effect. It will be a time that viewers spend without gadgets, listening to classical music and actively engaging their imagination. After all, the sand show is created exclusively by the hands of the artist, without digital technologies. This is becoming a rarity now. Modern children see less and less simple human art that makes them engage their imaginations and immerse themselves in a world of pure fantasy,” — explains Margarita Bagrova, producer of the show.


The show will be performed in Russian — with Oleg Sidorchik as the narrator. If your children do not speak Russian, the organizers will provide special booklets in English.



  • Alyona Voynova’s “Sand Tales” will be shown at The Tabernacle in London on April 28 — tickets available here.
  • The day before, on the 27th, the artist will conduct a sand art workshop for children — details here.



Cover photo: Alyona Voynova




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