What is the connection? The connection is what makes two two-legged animals a single four-legged animal. This makes the two partners "one" when they dance. The connection is the physical contact with your partner.
This is accomplished through the frame. The frame takes many forms. We normally think of the frame as the traditional hold like you would use in Foxtrot or Rumba. However, an "open break", "crossover break", "shadow position", etc. are all forms of the frame. All physical connections to your partner through your hands and arms no matter what position they are in or whether using a single or double connection, should be considered a frame. The purpose of the frame is to communicate to your partner the "oneness" of the partnership. It connects together the two bodies.
In partnership dancing there needs to be a leader and a follower (action and reaction; a yin and yang). Nether one is more important than the other to achieve the "oneness" that we are all seeking. The action/reaction will seemingly happen simultaneously.
The connection (frame) is a living breathing entity, not a stiff, frozen, dead contact with your partner. The connection should make your partner feel like he/she is part of you not something that is being dragged around or being pushed around the floor. The follower must participate in the connection not just be there. The leader uses this active connection to connect to a live and energetic partner to initiate a simultaneous movement of the single entity.
The connection of the two partners is always in opposition. For example: "Open Break" - The pressure toward the partner by the leader is responded to by pressure toward the leader by the follower. The goal is to have each partner have control of his or her own balance but still act as one and use the other partner's power. The pressure returned by the follower is only as much as the pressure initiated by the leader. The pressure toward each other happens simultaneously.
The connection between the two partners is always pliable (malleable). The connection is active (alive) not stiff or frozen (dead). It is not just holding on to the connection but it is participating in the connection. The power in the connection is used to help you move. When you see someone dancing who you think is outstanding, it is probably because they are trained dancers who understand the connection.
Bottom line, the connection is alive, active, feeling, and a source of power. It allows you to feel your partner and creates that wonderful feeling of "oneness". Ultimately this physical connection becomes almost physic and mystical.