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The National Danish Performance Team is travelling the whole world with their show “ZOOM” and with a message of healthy living and an active lifestyle. The 28 young Danes have just spent one month in the United States where obesity and overweight is a big issue. During their stay in the States, the gymnasts visited the young Indians of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Arizona to inspire to a more active lifestyle.

Last month they were in the United States, the past 2 weeks they have toured Mexico – right now they’re in Colombia – and next month they will take on to Brazil. The National Danish Performance Team’s world tour has so far taken the team to 11 different countries all over the world. In May and June the internationally acclaimed team will tour around Europe with their show “ZOOM”.

The 28 team members, aged 20-27, have had numerous unforgettable experiences around the world. But one that surely made a lasting impression was the visit to the Indian reserve Pascua Yaqui in Arizona, US.


Obesity is a big issue among the American Indians

Near Tucson, in the desert of Arizona, lies the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reserve – a sovereign nation in USA. The National Danish Performance Team (NDPT) visited Hiaki High School in Pascua Yaqui in the end of January – a small high school with only 60 students.

Hiaki High School principal, Mr. Juan Soto, explains how his students have other challenges than the average American high school student:

“The US in general has a problem with obesity and overweight but here it’s a very significant problem. Many of our students have a very unhealthy lifestyle and the average life expectancy of a Yaqui male is only 54 years. Plus, many of our students have a lot of problems at home to worry about so our goal is first and foremost to make everyone attend class and to get as many as possible to graduate high school”.


Living an active lifestyle

The four NDPT gymnasts Mathias Winther, Mie Kristensen, Jeppe Kaas og Elisabeth Fahlgren Andersen gave a presentation on Danish lifestyle and sports culture, held a workshop with the students, and the whole team gave a one-hour performance for the Pascua Yaqui community.

The presentation was carried out as a dialogue with the students where both parties could tell about their background, their daily life and their approach to an active lifestyle. The four Danes also told about the NDPT world tour and about how they had lived and trained to be selected for the National Danish Performance Team.


Inspiring the young Indians

”The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has big problems with obesity and this has greatly to do with the effects of an inactive lifestyle. We felt it was important to bring NDPT here to try to inspire the children to move and exercise. And to have their leaders and elders see what the potential is, so they can support their young people as they make choices for their own life”, says Mia Hansen, US tour coordinator for the National Danish Performance Team.


An active lifestyle has many advantages

After having witnessed the presentation, the workshop and the performance, principal Juan Soto has no doubt that the NDPT visit has made a difference to his students:

“It is a very unique thing to have such skilled and active young Danes visiting. They have showed our students the great advantages of an active lifestyle. If our students are fit, healthy and active they are also more likely to take control of their own lives and to attend class”.

US tour coordinator Mia Hansen adds:

“The NDPT has visited the Pascua Yaqui Tribe before, in 2010. And the tribe has already started to invest in recreational facilities. This doesn’t mean that they have the mindset to use it but we show them how to use their facilities and inspire them to get moving”.


Cultural exchange between young Danes and Indians

Of course it was not only the young Indian high school students who learned something new during this visit. The NDT gymnasts were also invited to visit the Pascua Yaqui Cultural Centre where members of the Tribal Council told about the unique Yaqui culture and the tribe’s long and remarkable history.

The team also had an interesting taste of the Yaqui culture after their performance at the Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center: As the Yaqui tradition prescribes, every single gymnast was invited to walk around and shake hands with every spectator in the arena – three times. Not something that the Danes are used to – but luckily enough there were only around 300 spectators in the arena…


BOXED TEXT: Facts about the National Danish Performance Team (NDPT)

  • The team has so far visited Azerbaijan, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, USA, Mexico and Colombia
  • On their world tour, the team has held workshops with a total of approx. 100,000 children, youth and adults
  • The team members were selected at an audition in Denmark in February 2012
  • Every team member participates on a voluntary basis and pays a fee of 5,000 € to be part of the team
  • Highlights from Africa (YouTube video)
  • Showreel, ZOOM show (YouTube video)