There is one secret to improving Ballroom Dancing at any level, not just at the higher levels. No matter how many private lessons you take, no matter how high a level your instructors are, no matter how much money you spend, there is one single factor that allows your dancing to evolve to the higher levels. The secret is "BASIC FUNDAMENTALS".
In the beginning, new dancers learn basic fundamentals that form a foundation for their Ballroom Dancing. The problem is that the dancers continue to use these same beginner dancer fundamentals to try to dance higher level movements. The "Basic Fundamentals" must evolve to accommodate more advanced Ballroom movements. The best dancers in the world continuously work on the basic fundamentals.
Initially, new dancers simply walk through dance patterns in front of each other. There is some semblance of frame and partnership. Connection and footwork may or may not be addressed. As the new dancer learns the specific pattern sequence, a little more information is disseminated regarding lead and follow. Once the new dancer can roughly dance the specific pattern, more basic information is provided. At this point more dance patterns are introduced. Typically the new dancer now has the perspective that higher level dancing means more dance patterns. The "Basic Fundamentals" remain as is and new dance patterns are acquired. Many new dancers don't realize that the basic fundamentals need to evolve to support the more advanced movements.
Let's look at the Smooth/Standard style dance frame as an example. In the beginning, the dancers are basically just touching each other with their hands and trying to not hurt each other. This evolves to using the frame to maintain a physical relationship between the two dancers. Many times the fundamentals of the frame do not progress beyond this stage. To dance at the higher levels, the function of the frame must be expanded. The frame must close the two dancers to allow body contact. This is imperative for advanced rotational movements. The body contact also encourages movement from the common core of the partnership and improved communication between the dancers. The contact allows counter balance and better stability of the partnership as well as many other benefits. This is but one example of updating the "Basic Fundamentals" to accommodate advanced movements. Other examples would be "Footwork", "Power", "Connection", Body Position", "Head Position", etc., etc. This applies to Latin/Rhythm style dancing as well.
The primary goal of learning Ballroom Dancing is to transition from single dancers to a partnership and then to the ultimate, a "Singularity". These transitions are not possible unless the "Basic Fundamentals" evolve, enabling the progression. In a "Singularity", the two dancers disappear into a single entity (a two-headed four-legged entity).
A dancer can't just turn the fundamentals "on" when he or she dances. The dancer must make the Basic Fundamentals (posture, movement, balance etc.) part of their everyday life.