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Dance costume - Male ensemble for <i>Because We Must</i>

Male ensemble for Because We Must

  • Object:

    Dance costume

  • Date:

    1987 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bowery, Leigh (designer)
    Mr Pearl (designer)

  • Museum number:

    S.101:1 to 3-2010

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 105, case 10 []

This costume was worn in Michael Clark's ballet Because We Must, first staged at Sadler's Wells Theatre in 1987. Because We Must was an ironic, irreverent work which challenged the conventions of dance by introducing humour and unexpected interventions - such as a nude female dancer with a chain saw interrupting a trio of woman dancing to Chopin preludes. This crewelwork costume was worn by Leslie Bryant in a section performed to Venus in Furs by the Velvet Underground. A similar, female, version of the costume (S.102:1 to 3-2010) was worn by Lisa Philips.

These costumes were based on an earlier clubbing outfit design, made and worn by designer and performer Leigh Bowery (1961-1994). He reworked the existing theme - a structured body with balaclava - using the skills of Paris-based corsetier Mr Pearl (Mark Erskine-Pullin), who made the complex garments. Lines of appliqué were used to create a corseted look which still allowed the dancers freedom of movement.

Physical description

Costume for a male performer designed by Leigh Bowery and made by Mr Pearl for 1987 dance performance, Because We Must.


1987 (made)


Bowery, Leigh (designer)
Mr Pearl (designer)

Descriptive line

Costume for a male performer designed by Leigh Bowery and made by Mr Pearl for 1987 dance performance, Because We Must.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

This object features in 'Out on Display: A selection of LGBTQ-related objects on display in the V&A', a booklet created by the V&A's LGBTQ Working Group. First developed and distributed to coincide with the 2014 Pride in London Parade, the guide was then expanded for the Queer and Now Friday Late that took place in February 2015.

Labels and date


In Michael Clark’s irreverent Postmodern dance production, with music ranging from Chopin to Bruce Gilbert, performers appeared in amazing and outrageous costumes. This pair of costumes was designed by Leigh Bowery, who also performed in the production. Based on a clubbing outfit that Bowery wore, the costumes were made by the skilled Paris-based corsetiere, Mr. Pearl.

Choreography by Michael Clark
Michael Clark Company at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, 1987
Crewel work bodice decorated with appliqué; lycra tights decorated
with sequins
Designed by Leigh Bowery
Made by Mr. Pearl (Mark Erskin Pullen)
Museum nos. S.101:1 to 3-2010; S.102:1-3, 2010 [November 2012]


Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes; Gender and Sexuality


Theatre and Performance Collection

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