Best friends both dance way into top stage school

Dino Karakosta and best friend Theo Wilkinson,  have both won scholarships to the prestigious Sylvia Armstrong Theatre School in London.
Dino Karakosta and best friend Theo Wilkinson, have both won scholarships to the prestigious Sylvia Armstrong Theatre School in London.

A pair of real life Billy Elliots have stars in their eyes as they head for the Big Smoke.

At the tender age of 11, best pals, Dino Karakosta and Theo Wilkinson, are leaving Hartlepool for the bright lights of London.

Dino Karakosta and best friend Theo Wilkinson, who have both won scholarships to the prestigious Sylvia Armstrong Theatre School.

Dino Karakosta and best friend Theo Wilkinson, who have both won scholarships to the prestigious Sylvia Armstrong Theatre School.

The duo have amazed all their family and friends by both clinching scholarships to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School.

Dino and Theo will be following in the footsteps of a host of famous people, including Rita Ora, Emma Bunton and Billie Piper, who all attended the £13,000 a year school.

Both of the Hartlepool boys are passionate about their dancing and acting and met while members of the Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts in the town.

Val suggested to the boys’ parents they could apply for a scholarship and they decided to give it a go.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity

Leigh Karakosta

Dino’s mum, Leigh Karakosta, 47, said initially they thought it would be a good idea to audition just to give the lads a taste of what it would be like.

The mum-of-three said none of them ever thought the boys would get through because there were hundreds of children applying.

Leigh, who lives in the King Oswy area of town and is mum to Phoebe, 21, and Nefeli, nine, said: “We just thought we would take them for the experience really and to see what it was like, and a day out in London.

“But, they kept getting called back to the next rounds. Eventually they both got through three rounds.”

Theo, who lives in the town centre area of Hartlepool with his mum, Caroline, dad, Paul, and sisters Eve, 21, and Florrie, six, took up dancing almost three years ago.

The former Clavering Primary School pupil quickly became best friends with Dino, who left St John Vianney RC Primary this summer.

Although both sets of parents are very anxious about their sons moving to London, where they will board with families, they did not want to deny them the opportunity and are pleased they will have each other.

Leigh said as well as being very emotional, it is also going to be a financial strain as they have to pay for the boarding and the train fares home every weekend.

But, she said: “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we would always be wondering ‘what if?’ if we didn’t let them go.

“They are so excited they think it is just going to be one big adventure.”

Once they start the school the boys will do three days a week of academic lessons and two days of theatre.