I have written quite a few articles about the frame and connection and here is yet another one. As most partnership dancers know, the frame and the connection of the frame are of primary importance to the two-headed four-legged animal. The focus this time is on maintaining the proper relationship between the two halves of this unique animal while Smooth/Standard dancing.
As usual, this is usually a "guy" kind of problem. Men typically try to "do" something with the lady instead of allowing her to be part of the two-headed four-legged animal. Men seem to try to drive the lady like they would a car instead letting her ride along comfortably in her own space. When a car turns (assuming that the man is the driver) the lady should move with the turn and maintain the same physical relationship to the driver. The driver doesn't try to push the lady around the corner separately inside the car. However, this is exactly what typically happens in partnership dancing. Men, the lady is not the steering wheel, she is the passenger.
As most ballroom dancers soon realize, you will "forever" come back to the basics. However, each time you come back, you will go a little deeper and understand a little bit more. This is how the quality of your dancing continues to progress.
How does the two-headed four-legged animal maintain its shape and move as "one"? Of course the answer is: It starts with the frame. The frame defines the relative positions of the two partners within the confines of two-headed four-legged animal. The frame maintains the offset position of the partnership. I like to call this: "Dancing cheek to cheek" (right cheek to right cheek but at a distance). The right side of the frame (from the leader's point of view) defines the lady's space in the two-headed four-legged animal. The man's right arm and elbow specifically is where the lady resides. The lady's space cannot be compromised or changed during four legged movement.
The frame has a forward feeling connection routed through the center of the partnership. The lady must be careful not to hang down in the right side of the frame. She has to move herself using the forward connection of the partnership for leverage. This makes her part of the two-headed four-legged animal. The lady needs to be as light as possible yet still be able to feel and use her other half for movement and power. The man has do the same. Since the man is the initiator/creator of the movement, he cannot be soft or wimpy but also cannot be too stiff or powerful.
Even though the lady seems to follow the leader, she is very involved in the lead. The lady participates in the lead, she enhances the lead, she adds power to the lead, she embellishes the lead, etc. I think you see how important her actions are to the two-headed four-legged animal.
The lady must maintain her offset position within the frame/partnership. At the same time the man must allow the lady to reside in this space undisturbed. The lady has the freedom to rattle around within her space and do what she needs to do as long as it doesn't disturb the continuity and movement of the partnership.
It "feels" like to me (the man), that I don't move the lady, I move her space. The frame moves as a result of the body moving. The frame does not move by itself. It is part of the body. If the partnership has the proper connection, the lady will move when her space is moved. This keeps the man from disturbing the lady within her space and allows freedom of movement.
All of this is going on in the partnership within the confines of the frame. The shape of the frame cannot be compromised at any time. If it is, the relationship of the two-headed four-legged animal will be compromised and the goal of absolute oneness can not be achieved. At the highest levels of partnership dancing there is no man and there is no lady. There is just the single entity of the partnership (the two-headed four-legged animal).