She is seductive, sensual, yet simple. Michael Igaga set out to unveil the mystery of the waspy-waisted Obsessions dancer, who was spotted from a crowd of dancers on a local television show
As the now famous PAM (Pearl of Africa Music) award winning Obsessions dancers churn out play after play, dance after dance, and song after song, one cannot help noticing the grace, the elation, the energy with which
Helen Lukoma, one of their young female dancers uses her lithe and slender body to translate music and song into movement
The 17-year-old, dance-addict, has trim proportional limbs, an almost symmetrical face, and exudes an aura of confidence, mischief, and fun, which sets her apart as a formidable entertainer. As a member of the Obsessions, she has featured in three of their theatrical productions, Heart of a Dancer, Queen Sheba, and the controversial Before Adam and Eve.
This young â€˜ballerinaâ€™ demonstrates a consistency of mechanics, skill and attitude that sets her apart as a dance-maestro. She dances with abandon, a wanton release that many dancers can only imitate. As the dances unfold, she moves her long limbs with ease, captivating celebration and attitude, as if to say: â€œcome join the party, letâ€™s have fun.â€ It is no wonder that the Obsessions were impressed enough to take her on immediately.
The story goes that one Saturday afternoon, two years ago, Ronald Mulindwa, the groupâ€™s founder, sat watching a live Jam Agenda programme on television. It was a â€˜Back to School Bashâ€™. Those were tough times for the Obsessions as they contemplated their future. The group had achieved resounding success but had now sadly split. Mulindwa was eagerly looking for talented girls who could fill the now vacant spots.
In this state of mind, Mulindwa was enthralled by this young girl as she weaved through Shakiraâ€™s Wherever, Whatever in almost perfect Indian belly-dance-style. â€œShe had what I wanted,â€ said Mulindwa. While David Kazoora desperately struggled to give direction to Jam Agenda, Mulindwa jumped into his car, sped towards Hotel Africana and picked his prize-girl out of the crowd.
Within an hour, they were acquainted. She needed no interview, just formalities. Over the next couple of weeks, Helenâ€™s parents would be contacted for approval and support and she would be moved from Lubiri secondary school to Agakhan High school which would allow the weaving of her hair into the Obsession style â€“â€“ allowing her to be the professional dancer she now is.
The last of six children, Helen was born to Mr. and Mrs. Lukoma of Makindye, Kampala on October 1, 1987.
She went to BBC Nursery School in Makindye then joined Shimoni Demonstration School for her primary education. She is currently at Agakhan doing her Aâ€™ levels in History, Economics, Divinity and Fine Art. She intends to graduate in business or law.
Helenâ€™s agility as a dancer can be traced back to her nursery school days, where she participated in Kiganda traditional dances at the school festivals. Her parents and siblings would come to watch and applaud her elegant performance.
But the realisation of her true calling was when she was at Lubiri Secondary School, when participating in the schoolâ€™s talent show. After the performance, it dawned on her that she could dance remarkably well. She enjoyed it too. This boosted her confidence. Her break was not far in coming. Within a year, the Obsessions had adopted her.
Asked why she dances, Helen with a measured tint of aggression says: â€œI love to dance. It is a talent that I have. I can move to the beat, thatâ€™s why I love to dance.â€
She describes herself as a â€œdetermined dancerâ€ and adds, â€œwith determination, I can add attitude, expression and energy.â€ As she speaks, her body seems to tense up as if in preparation for a particular dance move. And does she have problems learning her dance moves? she says: â€œNo, never. I am good.â€ â€œI learn fast...I am very fast,â€ she insists.
Dancing in is her blood. Even though she is a Catholic, she goes to Kampala Pentecostal Church because â€œthat is where the action is.â€
Helenâ€™s life revolves around â€˜the danceâ€™ as she calls it. She stays at Wakaliga-Nateete at the Obsessions exclusive residence where she retires after school each day. She drops her books and begins rehearsing, almost daily. She has to juggle her studies, the groupâ€™s rehearsals and the various shows and functions that the group is involved in from time to time. The residenceâ€™s garage has been turned into a dance studio with a giant mirror on the wall; the floor is covered with a white plastic carpet. Behind the garage is a bench-press and dumbbells, the workings of an improvised gymnasium, which is likely where the male Obsessions assemble some of their bulging muscles. The drive and lawn are clean; the living room is neat and well-furnished.
The Obsessions residence radiates with warmth. For two years, they have rented this abode where they create and rehearse their music, dance and drama, and where a few of the members reside. Once in their compound, Mulindwa, their leader, warmly welcomes me and so are all the Obsessions â€“â€“ easy-going, polite and friendly with ready smiles.
Within moments, I am made to feel comfortable. I do not have to wait long for my interviewee. She is available, immediately. She is dressed simple and neat and is pleasant to be interviewed. Her answers are prompt, short and friendlyâ€“â€“ punctuated by wit, charm, laughter, a ready smile, yet reflecting a maturity well beyond her years. She is one teenager who is constructively enjoying her life.
Helenâ€™s prime inspiration and role model is her mother. â€œSheâ€™s a perfect mother. Sheâ€™s everything. Sheâ€™s very encouraging.â€ Her other role model is Beyonce Knowles, the American award-winning songstress whom she admires very much. â€œsheâ€™s got a bodyâ€¦wow! She can move. sheâ€™s got energy.â€ She also admires Jennifer Lopez or â€˜JLoâ€™ for her determination as an artist with respect to her dancing, singing, acting, and modelling, a package Helen aspires to be.
Her â€˜best friendâ€™ is unreservedly Sheila Bakira, also of the Obsessions. Sheila, a first year student at Makerere University, bears a striking resemblance to Helen. They could readily pass for sisters. But where Helen exhibits unfettered extroversion, her friend is more pensive and contemplative. Of her friend, Sheila confesses: â€œI like her. She has a very fine personality. You cannot be sad around her. Sheâ€™s full of smiles and she listens...yes...sheâ€™s a good listener.â€ About Helenâ€™s dancing, Sheila claims her best friend is â€œpassed talentedâ€ meaning â€˜sheâ€™s got dance and music in her. Helen is young, focused and knows what she wants.
Mulindwa describes her as â€œa cheeky, fun-loving, sweet girl and a very good dancer who will improve with time.â€ Sam, a close friend, describes her as â€œa nice God-fearing person who puts her all in what she does, and speaks her mind.â€ â€œI see her on the big stage in future,â€ he prophesies.
Helen is visibly embarrassed when asked whether she has a boyfriend. After what seems like an eternity of probing, punctuated with laughter and a series of â€œno commentsâ€ and warnings, she concedes, â€œI have special people in my lifeâ€¦but Itâ€™s not about a boyfriendâ€¦ no. I donâ€™t have a boyfriend.â€
Helen sees herself in future as a dancer, singer, actress, and a model. As a model she would especially like to do the catwalk. The philosophy of her dynamic life is to do what benefits and pleases her. Her advice for anyone following in her footsteps or any fan out there is: â€œHard work brings success. You have to work hard to get what you want and to be where you want to be. If you want something, go for it. Explore and make use of your talent and be happy.â€
Into the heart of an obsessed dancer