Community in the Time of Corona

Community | Keeping It Real With Ella | Summer 2020


Bringing people together in community spirit has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing. From a young age I was part of a dance school where we would train most weekdays after school in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, music, you name it. I felt lucky to have my dancing friends as well as my school friends as it provided a rich variety of people to socialise with and learn new things from. My school friends didn’t quite understand why I missed out on parties and other events due to copious rehearsals and run throughs at the theatre. But I loved feeling part of something creative, be it a show or a competition, it felt good to work towards something with a group of like-minded people.

Throughout my 20’s when I stopped dancing and got a “real” job I became really depressed and unhealthy. I felt alone and cut off from the world of art and creativity. I didn’t have rehearsals to commit to, I didn’t have a group of people who I felt part of and I didn’t have that feeling of working towards something that wouldn’t just benefit me but it would benefit lots of people. It took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t just physically dancing that I missed but I missed being part of something bigger than me.

Opening my yoga studio in Cheltenham put back on that path where I felt like I was doing something meaningful and important and with that my health improved immeasurably. As more and more people joined our yoga community, we realised that we had created something quite special. It had started out as a space to practice a different form of yoga to what was already available in the town, but it quickly evolved to become a place where people came for support and friendship. Lifelong relationships have been formed in that place, members have introduced their friends and relatives to yoga, children have been and felt the sense of peace and belonging. We created something that was so much more than just a business, it was a lifeline, safety, a home.

With the community created at that yoga studio came my proudest creation and most true to who I am at my core – Soul Circus. The sense of community and togetherness at that event is second to none. It is a place of indescribable soul and beauty. The coming together of thousands of like minds in one place to celebrate health and happiness creates a magical energy that can be felt long after the festival is over. It is why we have such dedicated followers and people who come back every year. We even have our own Soul Circus baby whose parents met at the very first festival and then went on to create the most amazing little human called Theo.

The best thing about these communities are they do not need to be perfect. In a world where there is so much competition and we strive for perfection to feel accepted, we need places like Soul Circus to relax, just be and enjoy being amongst imperfect souls like ourselves. Festivals can be muddy and messy but we’re all in it together and oh, when the sun comes out, an awesome tune drops and you look around to see your favourite faces in the world, you will never beat that feeling.

Community is so important. Human beings are naturally pack animals; we love to feel part of a group. We need to come together for support, to share ideas, to share our troubles as it makes us feel like someone understands and we do not have to walk our paths alone. Community is also rich in resources, your strengths may be someone else’s weaknesses and vice versa, so coming together and sharing the load makes everything more successful and manageable.

A sense of togetherness lies in the soul of every individual. This comes from our care and dependency on our fellow beings. From our childhood days to our adulthood, we care for our family members, our relatives, our neighbours and friends. This leads to a need of togetherness among people, which helps in creating a community. We tend to enjoy any festival or social ritual together. Without it we feel alone, without anyone to share our ups and our downs with.

Hugs, laughter, and love are all integral parts of the Soul Circus community.

The Covid-19 crisis has affected us all in different and extraordinary ways. Never could we have predicted that in 3 short months we would be standing 2m away from the people we love and looking at a future of no festivals or gatherings. It is easy to slip into despair through all this and lose that connection to the things that we love, but we must stay strong.

We are at a crossroads in our lives where we get to choose what kind of community we want to belong to and what kind of world we want to live in. Never have we had the time to just stop and take stock of where we are in our life and what we want going forward. Many of us have had the chance to spend more time with our kids and loved ones, to walk in nature and not be in an office as well as the space to breath and connect with ourselves through fitness and yoga. Although our physical communities have been taken away, we’ve had the opportunity to examine our lives and the chance to think about how we want our lives to look in the future.

The people and the communities we align ourselves with now are more important than ever before. There is real threat out there, however you look at it - viruses, vaccines, lock downs, economic crash, millions of lives affected by what may or may not be what they say it is. Right now we need to figure out where we stand, who we stand with and we need to do it rapidly. Part of being in a community is being part of a collective way of thinking. We are seeing this collective play out in so many different ways right now, people who are living in fear and giving away their power willingly and the people who are not.

The community I now want to create is not built on this fear. It is not built on giving up our power or tearing down our communities, it is built on the opposite – love. When we feel love we do not feel fear and when we don’t feel fear we are able to achieve anything.