The dance industry has been largely starved of major technological innovations. You need only look down at your average ballet slipper to realise you’ve probably been wearing the same design since you were a child and one that has changed little in terms of functionality for hundreds of years. Yet MDM Dancewear has now engineered what is arguably the perfect ballet shoe.
MDM Dancewear—the leaders of innovation and technological advancement in dance equipment—is standing up for the value of dance. As part of their business model, founders Tim Heathcote and Simone Goldsmith work to educate their customers on why dance is worth the investment.
“Dance shapes you,” Mr Heathcote said. “You thought you were doing a demi-plié, but you were actually learning how to be persistent, resilient and tenacious.”
Many dance teachers claim that some parents don’t realise the potential consequences of buying their daughter or son cheap ballet shoes. Yet it’s now well-established that injuries are more likely to occur when wearing incorrect or ill-fitting footwear. As such MDM Dancewear has been born out of necessity; to supply the dance market what has been lacking.
“Our attitude towards dance has permeated through our products,” said Mr Heathcote.
“While dance is a craft that is fun, creative and joyous, dance is also a serious pursuit and we want dancers to be equipped with the most functional, supportive and aesthetic shoe,” Mr Heathcote continued.
MDM believes that the dancewear industry has not done enough to innovate compared to the more conventional sports such as track-and-field or football. Major sporting footwear companies have spent the last five decades working to revolutionise the technology in their footwear to improve performances across sports and reduce injury rates. Yet the dancewear industry has not taken such a daring technological leap, with most footwear designers remaining focused on the cosmetic appeal, rather than striving to discover and engineer footwear with the correct levels of guidance and support.
“While the specific needs of sportspersons and dancers differ, I’d argue that dancers need a similar degree of intelligently designed equipment to ensure they’re able to achieve their best performances and reduce injury rates,” Ms Goldsmith said.
MDM does not believe dancers should have to accept a one-size-fits-all mentality. Because of this, MDM has engineered shoes specifically designed for performance that prioritise comfort and aesthetics, and others that are specifically designed for rehearsals where functionality, such as injury prevention and technique training are more important factors. MDM understands that the demands on dancers vary depending on their age, technical ability and whether they are in class, rehearsals, doing exams, or performing in competitions.
“Being a former dancer myself, and now a designer of footwear, it was an extremely natural process to want to develop a concept to better support a dancer inside a dance shoe,” said designer Mr Heathcote.
The advanced design of the shoe is unique to MDM. In every MDM shoe, you’ll find the internationally patented Dance Base Support that is engineered into the sole of the shoe. This sweeps to cup the heel and remains in constant contact with the arch, providing support to the intrinsic muscles. This Dance Base Support delays fatigue by assisting in muscular activation while also providing a subtle cue for improved alignment guidance of the whole foot. The latter helps reduce the likelihood of rolling inward or outward, which is one of the most common technical faults in dancers and can lead to stress injuries over time.
“Now it’s here, it almost seems so straightforward that it makes you wonder why it hadn’t been done sooner,” said Ms Goldsmith.
Founders Tim Heathcote and Simone Goldsmith have been blessed with exceptional dance careers and understand from experience what dancers need on their feet. Mr. Heathcote was classically trained before taking a position with Sydney Dance Company under the direction of choreographer Graeme Murphy AO. There Tim had a fruitful start to his career enjoying international success. Yet due to a severe back injury, Tim was forced to retire early from dance. His injury prompted him to think about dance from a fresh perspective, which motivated the question: how can a dancer’s most essential equipment—their shoes, better prepare them and keep them injury free?
Ms Goldsmith also enjoyed an impressive career, with The Australian Ballet. For 11 years Simone danced with the company performing as a Principal ballerina, working with some of the world’s best choreographers and directors. She was blessed to have had several ballets created on her, which is considered a spectacular honour in the classical realm. Now retired from dance, they are happily married to one another and to their company, MDM.
Tim and Simone started with little except their vast experience in dance and a burning passion to improve the craft, art, and industry they’ve dedicated their lives to. Like so many innovations the MDM story began with a foundational question: if you were making the ballet shoe today—knowing all we do about materials, physiology, technique training and injury prevention—what would that shoe look like? What could and should it do? These questions led to the ideas that sparked the emergence of MDM Dancewear.
Most of the MDM team have been professional dancers, which is a significant difference to their competitors.
“I think that experience is missing from some of the other major dancewear companies,” said Mr Heathcote.
Tim concluded; “I believe the success of MDM is a testament to what we were taught as dancers. Some parents don’t see the value of dance training, and so we want to really start showcasing the dancers in the corporate world that are doing exceptionally well.”
Because doing dance is not necessarily about having a professional dance career. The values dancers learn in the studio can drive them in the corporate world. Values such as persistence, dedication, a love of hard work, team building and pride in oneself transcend the dance studio and are relevant in almost every endeavour.
“Dancers often make the best employees because of those early ingrained values,” said Mr Heathcote smiling.
To see more about MDM Dancewear and how they can assist with your dancewear needs, see their story here.