One of the most over looked aspects of partnership dancing is something called "clean footwork". It is one of the first fundamental concepts that the beginner dancer should try to understand and incorporate into his dancing. It is also a concept that the advanced dancer continually try's to master.
"Clean footwork" means simply being on one foot at a time. This implies that one foot has 100% of the weight and the other 0%. In partnership dancing this is not true. The free foot has about 2% of your body weight and the supporting foot has the other 98% (the free foot doesn't leave the floor).
Why is "clean footwork" so important? The lady doesn't dance patterns. She dances one step at a time, the step that she can feel. When the leader has "clean footwork", the follower can feel through the frame which foot he is on and respond accordingly. In addition, when the leader has "clean footwork", he doesn't have to remember to move with the left foot or the right foot. He simply moves with the free foot. The very worst thing a leader can do is to be on both feet at the same time. The follower can't react fast enough to feel which foot he is going to use.
The frame connects the two halves of the "two-headed four-legged animal" together. The dance partnership now has four feet on the floor all of the time. The partnership should never be off-balance with four feet on the floor (two feet with 2% each and two feet with 98% each).
The lady depends on the leaders movement to be initiated from his supporting leg. The lady cannot feel what is going on in the leaders free leg. Clean footwork accommodates the lead from the supporting leg.
"Clean footwork" occurs at the completion of a step (a complete weight change). During the transition of a complete step (the movement from one supporting foot to a new supporting foot), the weight of the body moves from the supporting foot (98%) towards the free foot (2%) until the previous free foot is now the new supporting foot and the previous supporting foot is now the new free foot. The body weight reaches a point at which there is equal weight on each foot (50% - 50%). This is called split weight. The leg with the most weight on it is supplying most of the power for the movement. If leg "A" is the supporting leg and leg "B" is the free leg, you can see that leg "A" starts off supplying most of the power during a step. Once you go slightly beyond split weight, you can see that leg "B" will start providing the majority of the power. The goal in partnership dancing is for both legs to be working all of the time and both legs to be supplying power all of the time. It sort of feels like you push with leg "A" until you get to split weight, then pull with leg "B" to complete the weight change. Your partner is doing the same thing because she can feel your movement and will add to the power of the step. You now have 4-WHEEL DRIVE POWER in your movements.
"Clean footwork" is one of the fundamental starting points for partnership dancing. If you can get just a hint of it in your movements, you will be way ahead of the game. It is an absolute essential for advanced dancers to develop this aspect of movement to its highest level. So for all of you out there, put it in 4-wheel drive and let's go dancing!!!