Battleship ballerina's Boston school invite
AN OFFICER onboard a warship has swapped her tough military boots for ballet shoes.
Lt Anna Sanocki, one of HMS Ocean's crew, was due to be supporting the ship's security effort during the Paralympic and Olympic Games but was instead granted special permission to attend a prestigious American ballet school.
The 30-year-old won one of 25 places at the Boston Ballet School's summer programme on the back of her ten years' experience as an amateur ballerina.
Having taken up ballet when she was at university, Lt Sanocki flew to Boston for two weeks training under some of the best instructors America has to offer.
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She said: "There are a lot more ballet schools in America than there are in the UK, and it's much more common for adults to do ballet over there. Boston's always been on my list of places to visit, so I got to kill two birds with one stone."
When the opportunity to go to Boston came up, Anna, who was an Officer of the Watch, was encouraged to apply by the Devonport-based ship's commanding officer, Captain Andrew Betton.
"Initially I was a bit nervous about bringing it up, because I knew about our tasking for the Olympics and Paralympics and how busy we were likely to be," she explained.
"But when I spoke to him about it, the captain was really supportive of the idea.
"He told me I had to go, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that he was sure they could get around my absence somehow."
While a warship may not exactly be the best place to practise, an impromptu dance studio was set up in one of HMS Ocean's spare compartments.
"Some of the crew bring bikes and golf clubs on board. I just bring a barre instead," she joked.
"Lots of people think ballet is easy, that it isn't exercise, but it is. It's a very different kind of fitness and it's all about making it look easy and graceful when you're actually working really hard.
"It's a pretty weird hobby for a naval officer to have. But it makes me happy so I don't mind. When you're focusing so intently on every movement, the rest of the world just disappears into the background. It's very cathartic."
Lt Sanocki has now returned from Boston and is working as professional crew onboard a P2000, a small fast training boat which provide university Royal Navy units with their own sea going training vessels.