Partnership is the key element of Ballroom Dancing. By definition, Ballroom Dancing is "a set of partner dances". Partnership means two people moving as "one" on the dance floor. The two people are merged together to form a single "two-headed four-legged animal" (entity). The movement of this entity reflects the character and music of the particular dance being performed.
Two people walking through dance patterns together, while touching each other is not partnership dancing. Typically, the focus of beginning dancers is learning to dance your own part while your partner is doing the same. Unfortunately, more often than not, these dancers never progress beyond this stage of Ballroom Dancing. It is truly sad to see long time dancers that are still in this beginning stage of dancing. I call these Ballroom dancers "Pattern Dancers". They know a lot of patterns, but they lack the movement, look and feel of a true partnership Ballroom Dancer.
Partnership is not just a physical connection between two partners as most dancers seem to think. A true partnership is a combination of physical and logical connections (I call these logical connections, invisible connections). The partnership seems to evolve into a state of mind instead of a physical activity. One of the hardest concepts is to see and treat yourself as a partnership instead of an individual dancer. You are to dance as a single entity not as half of a partnership.
The dance frame is critical in developing the partnership. I like to think of the dance frame as being a moving "HUG". A normal "hug" is typically performed in a front to front body position just like a dance frame. When you "hug", you normally don't do it nose to nose, you have an offset between the bodies just like a dance frame. When you "hug", you don't try to break the other person's ribs by squeezing too hard, you just hug to make physical contact similar to a dance frame. The goal is for the dance frame to encompass (hug) the whole partnership not just your partner. This means you are "hugging" yourself and your partner as a single entity. The focus is the partnership, not the individual partner.
The purpose of the dance frame is to unite the two dancers into a single two-headed four-legged animal. This partnership unity allows the dancers to move and act as "one". Once the dance frame is correctly established, the two partners are able to feel the movement and character of each dance as "ONE" (a single partnership). There is a communication between the partners that is as if the partnership has a single mind and body. Ballroom Dancing is ultimately an almost unconscious feeling rather than a deliberate physical activity.
This dance frame (hug) allows the dancers to "feel", "power", 'move", "lift" "lower", "sway", "rotate", etc. the partnership as a single entity. These attributes of the partnership are not necessarily experienced from a physical aspect. The "hug" dance frame facilitates the ability to create and sense physical connections as well as "logical" (invisible) connections. An example of a "logical" connection is the concept of "being down in the saddle" (Refer to Newsletter Article (0312) and moving the partnership through that point. The partnership is physically connected through the frame at or about the shoulder level but the power to move the partnership is initiated down in the saddle. This results in better balance and control of the partnerships' movement.
It is necessary for this "hug" partnership concept to be employed by each partner for it to be most effective. This means that each partner must be a trained dancer and understand these "physical" and "logical" connections. Updating your "partnership" to include these concepts will dramatically change the look and feel of your Ballroom Dancing.
"Logical" connections enable the partnership to feel rise and fall in the legs and feet, weight changes, rotational movement, head movement, offset counter balance, etc. The understanding and use of "logical" connections raises the level of the partnership in Ballroom Dancing more than any other concept.