Modris Tenisons

Modris Tenisons (born March 19, 1945 in Riga, Latvia) is a mime artist in Lithuania and Latvia. He is especially well known in Lithuania. He is also a multidisciplinary artist: a theater director, stage designer and theater consultant.


Modris lost his father at an early age, so he had to learn the skill of independence when he was just a child. He started schooling in Riga, Latvia when he was six years old. During his school days, he showed talent in art.[1]

Mime careerEdit

After graduating from the School of Applied Arts in Riga, he studied and performed pantomime for four years under Robert Ligera, until he fell in love and emigrated to Lithuania. In 1966 at Kaunas, Lithuania, he founded the first professional pantomime team in the Soviet Union. He directed several professional pantomime theater and radio performances, including Ecce homo (1967), Dream Dreams (Sapņu sapņi, 1968), Do Butterflies (Sargājiet tauriņu, 1969), 20th Century Capriccio (XX gadsimta Capricio, 1970), and Collage (Kolāža, 1971).[1][2][3]

Modris is loved and respected by Lithuanians, who consider him as a kind of local 'Charlie Chaplin'. Modris was honoured by the Lithuanian government with an Order of Gediminas for his contributions to the art of mime. He has been retired for years now but keeps drawing and attracting orders as an artist.[2]

He has remained a legend in Lithuania theater for two generations. In 2003, he was visited and interviewed by a group of Lithuanians to understand him as a phenomenon.[4]

The language of ornamental signsEdit

Modris also has great interest in ornamentation. He was involved in researching the symbolism of a Latvian traditional woven belt ('Lielvardes josta’) with 22 ancient symbols. This Latvian ethnic group is a major part of his creative work.[1][2][5]

He and Armands Strazds are the creators of the Zime Project,[6] which was the central exhibit of the Latvia Pavilion at Expo 2000.[7] Zimes, from the Latvian word for "sign", are coloured graphic patterns generated by the computer encryption of texts, pictures, or sounds. During the course of Expo 2000, 300,000 visitors to the Latvia Pavilion generated their personal "zimes", including the (then) President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.[8]

Other contributionsEdit

In 2006 he was involved in a creative laboratory: a survey on actors' psychophysics, nonverbal theater methods and the Latvian sign system. Sixteen actors (Rūta Birzleja, Nadīne Bokovikova, Linde Dambe, Sanita Duka, Ilze Ikše, Jurijs Kondratenko, Dzintars Krūmiņš, Daiga Līcīte, Sandris Majars, Simona Orinska, Dagne Reinika, Ieva Skopāne, Lena Smelova, Inese Upeniece, Agrita Vidže and Zigmārs Zakis) participated in his laboratory, which lasted for 4 months.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Modris had to leave Kaunas and Moscow, where he had dedicated himself to mime, for his native Riga in Latvia. Occasionally, he was engaged in theatrical activities after he got married.[2]

He survives his wife Ilze Tenisone[10] and has two adult sons, Juveris and Peteris, who worked and studies in England. He lives with his daughter Ilze and assistant, friend and life partner Simona Orinska.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "MODRIS TENISONS: Režisors un scenogrāfs, dizaina mākslinieks, profesionāla pantomīmas teātra izveidotājs Kauņā." 2003. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Lithuanian Mime School. Modris Tenisons." Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  3. ^ Ecce Homo [documentary by Vidmantas Baciulis, 1972]. Part 1 on YouTube. Part 2 on YouTube. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  4. ^ Modris [documentary]. Part 1 on YouTube. Part 2 on YouTube. Part 3 on YouTube. Part 4 on YouTube. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  5. ^ "Ornamental Sign Language in the First Order Tracery Belts" Retrieved October 8, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Zime Project" Official site. Accessed October 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Profile Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine, (in German). Accessed October 8, 2010.
  8. ^ National Pavilions "98.EU: Expo 2000" Accessed August 8, 2010. Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Inside - Ecce Homo" on YouTube. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  10. ^ "Ilze Tenisone: VJauniešu kamerkora 'Vecrīga' dibinātāja, vadītāja un ilggadēja diriģente." Retrieved October 8, 2010.