Dancing the whole body means dancing the complete four legged animal. It means dancing the whole body of each individual partner, then combining these two into the complete four legged animal. Partnership dancing is not just two people dancing in front of each other. It is the combining of the physical, mental, physic, and souls of the two to create a bigger, better, faster, stronger, more feeling entity.
When we first start dancing the focus is on foot patterns and usually just your own two feet. The foot patterns give you the geometry of what you are trying to do. Once the foot patterns are a little in muscle memory you can start to add the legs and hips. The legs and hips allow you to add power and control to the movement. The upper body solidifies the connection to create the single four legged animal. Dancing is really about the quality of movement of the whole body. In this case, the complete four legged animal.
The movement of the whole four legged body is what creates the character of a particular dance. For example: the smooth dance Slow Waltz has sway that comes from the ankles/knees and rise and fall that is created in the feet/ankle, knees/legs, and the upper body. The whole four legged body moving as a single entity, develops the overall sway and rise and fall characteristics.
In Latin dancing it is very easy to never get to the part where you are dancing the whole body. First comes the foot patterns with toe-flat footwork. When that gets working, the legs and hips add Latin/Cuban motion. It is very common not to progress beyond this point. There is still the rest of the body above the belt (the back, head, neck, arms, hands, etc.). I tell my students that every part of the body needs to be participating (including your nose, ear lobes, hair, eye brows, toe nails, everything).
Once you can get your whole body involved, you need to add your other half (your partner). You need to be able to feel your other half just as you can feel your own two feet, arms, head, etc. Now you have to feel your four feet, four arms, two heads, etc. You can feel every part of your other half just as easy as you can feel yourself.
The four legged animal is an attitude as much as it is a physical entity. The attitude is that your center of gravity is now the center of the partnership, not inside yourself. It is amazing what you can feel if you believe you have four legs, four arms, two bodies, etc., molded into a single entity, the four legged animal.There is never any "free" anything. All of the body parts are always connected to the four legged animal. The so called "free" foot always has 2 % of your body weight (it acts as an outrigger for balance.). The so called "free" arm is still connected through the partnership's center to help counter balance the other half of the four legged animal. There is no such thing as a "free" arm or leg. Even when they are not physically touching your partner or bearing weight, they are still connected and participating in the partnership. You have to understand that the individual person does not have their own balance but are an active part of the balance of the whole four legged animal. The common center of gravity is some where between the two partners.
It is only reasonable to assume that the partnership should never be off balance because the partnership has four legs. It should also have twice as much power because we have combined two engines (bodies) into one.
This particular four legged animal is a little more complicated than the norm. It has two brains in two heads that face each other, two sets of legs that face each other, etc. It should be understood that each half of the four legged animal has a different role in this single entity. The half's do not have a mirror image feeling. If you dance the leaders part, then dance the followers part, they will not feel the same at all. These two different feelings are what create the unique feeling of "oneness".
The composite four legged animal is quite complicated but is very logical in its make-up. Once you understand how it functions and can become a complete four legged animal, you will be amazed at the feeling of "oneness" that you have created in your dancing.