I have written quite a few articles about how the two-headed four-legged animal (the partnership) moves. These articles were usually specific to one aspect of the four-legged movement. This article is an effort to combine these specifics so that the whole picture can be seen. Our goal is to be "ONE" on the dance floor. One what? One two-headed four-legged animal!!!
One of the most fundamental things the dancers must understand is that, in general, the lady learns and responds by feeling and the man learns and leads from a mechanical perspective.
The frame in partnership dancing is everything. Without it there is no communication or feeling in the two-headed four-legged animal. Dancing is all about feeling and there is no four-legged feeling without connection. If there is no connection, you may as well be dancing by yourself. This defeats the reason for dancing in partnership.
Dancers are always offset from each other within the frame (lady on the leader's right side). The leader defines and maintains the ladies space in the partnership. The partnership has an equal and opposite connection.
The leader is connected to his partner but does not move her physically. He moves her "space" and because she is connected, she will move herself using his power to move and stay in that "space". Each partner must feel and maintain the correct head position relative to their partner within the frame.
The leader must have his weight on only one foot at a time and move from the supporting leg so the lady can respond correctly to his movements. The lady can't feel what is going on in the free leg. The leader dances the ladies every foot step, giving her only one choice as to her movement.
The lady dances the leader's body and the leader dances to the music (hopefully). The leader's power must come from his center. The lady needs to "feel" what to do, not "know" what to do. The leader has a center of gravity, the lady has a center of gravity and the four-legged partnership has its' own unique center. The movement of the four-legged animal happens through its' common center (center of the partnership).
The leader dances elements (because he has to plan ahead) and the lady dances one step at a time (what she feels). The leader must create the shape, direction and power in a manner such that the lady moves naturally. The leader normally controls the speed of the ladies turns in one manner or another (usually by weight changes or by powering it).
The leader defines the character of the dance (rise/fall - Waltz, staccato movement - Tango etc.). The leader determines the foot work (heels, toes etc.) of the partnership based on his body position.
The partner moving forward is in the best position to supply power. The ladies body, once put in motion, continues in motion until the leader stops it. The lady does not dance to a spot. The free leg has 2% of your weight and the supporting leg has 98%. Very rarely is one foot completely off of the floor. Both feet stay on the floor all of the time. The two-headed four-legged animal balance is solidified by reaching toward each other. This gives you four on the floor.
There are certain things that you must train your self to do to accommodate four-legged movement. The dancers' feet must point in the direction of movement, not necessarily behind your shoulders. There are also hand mechanisms for executing various turns etc. The leader by using unnatural body positions (CBM, etc.) can create natural responses by the lady. This is what I call invisible connections. These are specific body part movements created by a connection that is not obvious and at times seems illogical. The leader can lead (through an invisible connection) a very specific body part of the lady to accomplish a specific element. This is one reason it is so hard to learn from video tapes. You really can't tell where the lead is coming from. I usually have the leaders dance as the lady so they can feel where the lead is coming from and how it actually feels.
Trained dancers know how the partnership functions and are constantly looking for better ways for the two-headed four-legged animal to move.