In August of 2012, I wrote an article entitled "No Dead Bodies Dancing". This is an expansion of that basic concept. "Full Body Dancing" refers to using every muscle in the dancer's body (head to toe). Generally speaking, most dancers dance through their feet and arms. The goal is to get the whole body involved to such an extent that the "Full Body" is actually a "Singularity".
Almost all beginning Ballroom Dancers learn to dance from the floor up. The dancers are first exposed to "Foot Patterns". A "Foot Pattern" is a sequence of steps that creates a specific action. An example would be a simple "Box Pattern", an "Open Break Pattern", etc., etc. The dancer focuses on memorizing the pattern sequence from a foot movement point of view. The result is that the dancer gets totally engrossed with the geometric pattern of the feet. It takes quite a bit of repetition of the foot movements in the pattern before he/she is even aware of anything else. At this point the only part of the body being used is the feet. There is hardly any awareness of the legs that are attached to the feet.
As the dancer has more repetition and experience with the foot patterns, the focus starts to shift towards the fact that there is another person involved in the movement. This gets a little tricky, especially for the leader, because there is something else going on besides just the feet. It is like trying to walk and chew gum at the same time, but just a little more complicated. Now that there is another person involved in the movement, consideration must be made for the relationship between the two partners. We now have hands, arms and shoulders (as part of the "Dance Frame"), involved in the movement as well as the feet. Plus, there is another whole person to consider!
The "Dance Frame" maintains the awareness of the partner and the physical relationship between the two partners. At this level of dancing, the "Dance Frame" this is the only physical contact between the partners. The forward physical connection of the "Dance Frame" is a key element in maintaining the dance relationship between the partners. Now instead of there being TWO of everything (feet, hands, arms, and shoulders) there is FOUR of everything. This is why I call it a "Four Legged Animal".
Previously in this article, I defined "Full Body Dancing" as using every muscle in the dancer's body (head to toe). Using the muscles that are directly causing the physical movement is just normal body operation. Generally speaking, at this stage of dancing, the muscles of everything below the hip sockets are active and involved. The "Frame" is toned but "STILL" and barely involved. The rest of the body is pretty much dead! How are the muscles that aren't directly involved in the actual act of movement used (activated)?
This is kind of far out but it illustrates my point. Have you ever seen a can of fishing worms? If you look inside the can, the worms are all moving inter-twined and moving in different directions but not going anywhere. It is like they are doing isometric exercises. The muscles are being activated and exercised but it is more of an internal action. It is possible to activate a dancer's body in the same manner.
There is an amazing difference in the feeling between dancing with a partner that is using their whole body compared to dancing with a partner with a dead body. This is not something that you can just turn on whenever you dance. It needs to be part of your life so it is there all of the time naturally. When you drive a car, most of your body is just sitting there dead with a few muscles being used here and there. Make an effort to keep your whole body activated all of the time in your normal every day life. Eventually it will be normal. Your posture will improve, your balance will improve, your general body muscle tone will improve, etc., etc.
At the higher levels of Ballroom Dancing, there is more physical body contact in the partnership. The closer the dancers are together, the easier it is to move as a "Singularity". The parts of the body that don't physically touch can actually be connected logically. After a while the dancers can't tell the difference between a physical connection and a logical connection. This logical connection accommodates the "Full Body Dancer".
The attraction of Ballroom Dancing is the physicality of the "Singularity". Don't just touch your partner when you dance, feel your partner physically and logically. Get the whole body involved to a point that the partnership disappears and what is left is a single physicality, the "Singularity".