Embodying Self & Expanding Perception
“Self-expression is the taking of an internal impulse — a personal vision — and through self-awareness putting it into external form.” That’s how USC describes the process by which people create art, achieving both self-expression and self-awareness.
For videographer, documentarian, singer/songwriter, and actress Millie Heckler, making music is all about this process. “I don’t make art to have an impact on others, I make art because I have to in order to make sense of my world and my experiences. I am changed by my music and whether or not that change is felt by others listening, I believe my capacity to show up and share unapologetically is enough,” she says.
But in the past, Heckler has found herself struggling to identify as an artist. “I don’t have much experience as a musician and I just recently started sharing my music publicly. I had been making music privately for years, but didn’t consider myself worthy of sharing since I never took formal music lessons. Within the past couple years — while leaning into confronting my scars and shadows — my desire to sing and play music with others grew tremendously,” she says.
Now, Heckler is the co-founder of Yes Body, formerly known as SoulFunktion. Yes Body “serves as a ‘traveling party’ dedicated to relentless self-progression and the pursuit of fearlessness. Hosting parties and events, teaching a variety of dance classes, and performing original works, the company advocates for embodied responsibility, upholding values of creativity, individuality, innovation, social equity, and inclusivity at all costs.”
“As human beings, I believe we are born dancers and singers. These voices of the body have been harmed out of so many of us. I work to remember the gifts given to me through my body, and to inspire others to remember and share their voices simply,” she shares.
For Millie, her artistic journey is evidently one of self-discovery, reflection, and connection. “With so much heartache, music is a remedy,” she says. In her work with different communities, Millie operates with the core belief that “there is always enough to share.”
“There is so much value in sharing space with like-minded people who share a similar need for art in their lives,” she says.
Millie has received recognition and numerous scholarships for passion and dedication throughout her artistic career. She’s also a dancer for Charles O. Anderson’s afro-contemporary company, dance theater X. She holds a MFA in Dance and Social Justice from UT Austin, and will be a panelist at the upcoming Artist Changemaker Workshop on November 13 and 14, sharing a new song with attendees.
“I think building community is the long-term impact for aspiring musicians who attend these workshops — building community with others and with oneself. I think personal artistry develops and flourishes within the context of a supportive group and community. Without the group, there is no individual, in my opinion. We need each other,” Millie shares.