Shenaragh Nemani whirls around the dance floor in her gold salsa costume with partner Ken Hudson.

At the conclusion of their number, he dips her backwards for the finale - but this is not your regular Latin dance routine.

And Whanganui dancer "Miss Nara" is no ordinary performer - she has cerebral palsy which has kept her bound to a wheelchair during her 21 years.

That has not prevented her from winning a place in the World Latin Dance Cup in Miami, Florida this December.


Competing in the limitless division, she is the first dancer in a wheelchair to qualify for the event.

Supported by her parents Cheryl and Sam Nemani, Shenaragh showed an interest in Latin dance when she was a small child and watching people salsa dance made her happy.

"She was missing out on a lot of things that other children enjoy so this has been her passion and we are happy to put in the effort to support her," says Mrs Nemani.

Marie Louise and Petera Hudson of Salsa on the Awa have also championed Shenaragh and their son Ken is her long-time dance partner.

The Hudsons are extended family to Shenaragh and she calls them mama, papa and brother.

"Kenny is running his own dance studio in Melbourne now but he partnered her for the World Latin Dance Cup in Auckland in March and he will go to Miami with her," said Mrs Hudson.

Shenaragh has an online campaign page where Whanganui supporters can donate towards her travel costs for the Miami trip.

"So far, individual donors have been really generous but we would love it if Nara could get corporate sponsorship towards the $6000 she needs," says Mrs Hudson.
Shenaragh has travelled to perform in Sydney, Australia before but this will be her first trip to the northern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, there is a milestone birthday to celebrate and mum Cheryl is busy with hundreds of balloons, streamers and frangipani flowers to decorate Te Rau Oriwa Marae hall for Shenaragh's 21st birthday this weekend.
To see Miss Nara's winning Auckland performance visit