Many Ballroom Dancers never realize that there is so much more than just physically moving beside each other. The intention of Ballroom Dancing is to combine two dancers into a living, breathing, feeling, two-headed four-legged entity (animal). The ultimate goal is to create a single "four-legged feeling". This is that unique feeling that can only be achieved with a partner.
The frame is the primary communication link for the partnership. It is important that the two dancers don't just "touch" each other through the frame. They must "feel" each other through this connection. There is a big difference between "touching" and "feeling". Think of the frame as a moving hug. Don't just hug the front of your partner; hug all of him/her. "Feel" the oneness of the "four-legged feeling".
In order to create the "four-legged feeling", both sides of the partnership must participate. Almost always, if the leader can develop the "feeling", the lady will reciprocate as well. Women, in general, have a high sense of "feeling" and will unconsciously become involved in the "four-legged feeling".
When dancers get in "Closed Dance Position" for example, the partners are "touching" each other through the "dance frame". This "touch" can create a physical and logical "connection" between the partners. This "connection" is what can be turned into "feeling". Specifically, we are talking about the "four-legged feeling".
To more fully understand these terms, the following definitions are from a Ballroom Dance perceptive.
TOUCH: to be in physical contact with (Example: The ladies left arm touches the man's right arm in Closed Dance Position.)
CONNECTION: a physical and/or logical contact (Example: The dance frame physically connects the two partners while the "Centers" of the two partners are logically connected.),
FEELING: a state of awareness (Example: Each dancer can feel the others "leg swing" while dancing Silver Waltz.)
As a "leader", the man feels the movement of the whole partnership, not just his part. The lady as the "follower" becomes part of the leader's movements through feeling. Before I go any further, I don't like the term "follower". It implies that the lady just gets pushed around the floor. The "leader" creates and initiates the movement "feeling" and the "follower" interprets the movement "feeling" and enhances it, embellishes it, powers it, etc. Both sides are continuously involved in the "feeling" of the movement. The more each dancer develops the "feeling" of the partnership, the more the concept of "Lead and Follow" disappears. It gets to a point where it seems that the Lead and Follow happens simultaneously. This is pretty much the definition of a "trained dancer"
Here are some examples of actions that are felt by each partner. Waltz leg swing, hip rotation for a lockstep, ankle, leg and body rise and fall, the whisking leg movement, power from the supporting leg, head turns, partnership offset counter balance, push and pull partnership connection, control of momentum (rotational and straight), movement from the center of the partnership, etc. There are many more actions that are not listed here. Many of these dance elements are specifically lead. These individual actions create an overall partnership feeling.
It is easy to get caught in the trap of feeling just your side of the partnership, particularly when you are the leader. When we learn to Ballroom Dance, we learn "our" part first and then we learn how to dance that part with a partner. This basically means "how to not hurt your partner while you both move". As time goes on the focus seems to be learning more and more patterns. The feeling of the partnership never seems to be a consideration. This is what "Group Lessons" are intended to teach. "Private Lessons" develop the "trained dancer" where you learn the "feeling". An instructor needs to have hands-on to be able to communicate the "feeling" to the dancer. Many dancers are unaware of the "feeling" that can exist in Ballroom Dancing because they have never taken a private lesson.