MDM in an Australian based company founded in 2012; Footwear Designer and CEO is Timothy Heathcote.
A former professional dancer, Tim was forced to retire abruptly from his career due to injury, after which he went on to work for international dancewear brands, first as a liaison between professional dancers and designers, then as a Footwear Brand Manager and later as a Senior shoe designer.
Founded with his partner Simone, a former Principal artist with The Australian Ballet, MDM has the creative vision that footwear should and could be more than simply comfortable and beautiful; that it could be a training aid to support, protect and correct a dancers emerging physiological and technical development and assist in reducing injuries.
To truly appreciate MDM it’s necessary to understand the patented technological innovation that is the Dance Base Support.
The Dance Base Support is the pink structure inside the shoe, as you can see it runs all the way through the shoe from the top of the heel, under the arch and through to the ball of the foot, assisting the dancer to find their optimal alignment.
The Dance Base Support provides the resistance of a full sole that’s needed by young dancers to help them build the necessary kinaesthetic awareness in their feet required for good dance practice. Young dancers tend not to use floor pressure during tendu, and so a full sole gives them some gentle resistance to push against to slowly learn this sensation, which they’re then able to transfer as a feeling to establish good floor pressure. The Dance Base Support gives them this controlled resistance to help them discover this feeling.
The Dance Base Support cups the dancers heel and when a dancer moves out of optimal alignment they will feel this subtle shift in position and want to self-correct to where the shoe feels most comfortable; that is, back to optimal alignment. It’s consciously experienced bio-feedback that they quickly learn to recognise and assess for themselves.
A typical shoe or dance floor provides little external stimulation and so a dancer must consciously remember to activate, which as we know is difficult and takes years. Yet with an MDM shoe providing extra information or stimulation, the muscles will activate automatically and over time help create the habitual, default movement pattern required for good technique and safe dance practice.
The Dance Base Support is made of an EVA, similar to that found in sports shoes, yet which has been specifically developed by MDM. This EVA provides shock absorption and therefore protection from the impact of landing forces.
As you can feel it’s not at all chunky like in a sports shoe, yet our experience from dancers and teachers is that even this minimal thickness makes a significant difference to how a dancers legs feel at the end of a long day.
We’ve known for over 40 years that both arch support and impact protection assist athletes to train better and reduce injuries. This isn’t new information. What is new is that no-one, until now, had adapted this existing knowledge into the minimalist footwear used by dancers. That is the exciting innovation that is the Dance Base Support.
Depending on the dancer, a foot can change up to a full size in length between the shortest position – when pointed – and it’s longest position, on demi-pointe. If the shoe has been snugly fitted to aesthetically show off the dancers pointe, then a normal shoe will then be too tight in the other positions – flat, plie and demi-pointe.
The Reflex panel ensures the shoe stays in better contact with the arch at all times.
While retaining the balance and need for a beautiful line when the foot is pointed, MDM footwear has been designed to be slightly wider across this area allowing for greater muscle activation which better alleviates the potential for long term injury associated with too much pressure the foot.
A drawstring needs to be “just right”. Too loose and the shoe feels as though it might fall off, yet too tight and it can leave a deep indent mark around the top of the foot.