Circus and Genealogy

Friday 26 May 2023
14.45 – 15.00 (BST)
NoFit State Circus


Pete’s talk reflects on his experience of circus complexity, through the lens of personal history and embodied genealogies of practice. He tells the story of his family, the Yeldings, who were once one of the most prominent circus families in Western Europe, and connects his own Romani lineage to that of his musical Ustad (Master Teacher). Themes of fear, otherness, belonging and memory bloom through the narrative, entangling threads of identity that shatter some of the West’s more recent myths about circus as a distinct, hermetic object.


Pete is a cellist, sitarist and vocalist from a family of travelling Showpeople. While his grandfather was the last Yelding to live a Showman’s life on the road, Pete continues the family’s trade of performing into at least its 7th generation. Over his professional career Pete has collaborated with artists such as Zinzi Minott, Mammal Hands, Iqbal Khan, Talvin Singh, Sura Susso, Jonathan Mayer, Shagufta Iqbal, & Amadou Diagne; and organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bristol Old Vic, Cape Farewell & Birmingham REP. He is currently studying towards a PhD, funded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, at Bath Spa and Exeter Univesrities. His research examines the body as a musical archive and traces the embodied knowledge of his teacher, Ustad Irfan Muhammad Khan's musical lineage, through translations between sarod, sitar and cello.