Partnership dancing is not just two people dancing patterns with each other. A whole new feeling is generated when the two people are connected to become a single two-headed four-legged animal. It is really easy to fall into the trap of each of the partners learning their own part and dancing it separately but with a partner. There is a completely different feeling that you can generate by dancing as part of the partnership.
I know you have seen couples dancing that you know are a cut above everyone else but you just can't put your finger on what's different. What you are seeing are the feelings developed by the two-headed four-legged connection. There are things that you can do if you have a connection that you can't do if you are not connected or have a poor connection.
Most students practice patterns by themselves then try to replicate that feeling with a partner. If they are successful, they might as well dance by themselves without a partner. Patterns danced with a partner should have a different feeling then when danced alone. There is so much more feeling that can be generated with a partner than without. What is the difference between dancing by yourself and dancing with a partner?
The "connection" is what changes the feeling of being two-legged to being four-legged. Can I generate more power with "four on the floor"? Do I have better control and balance with "four on the floor"? Absolutely!!
You hear all of the time: "You must move as one on the dance floor." One what? Of course the answer is: "A single two-headed four-legged animal".
I always tell my students: "It's not lead and follow, its lead and add to the lead, enhance the lead, participate in the lead, embellish the lead". The connection allows this to become a reality. However, this doesn't work unless the connection is there all of the time.When the connection is there all of the time:
Patterns are just a starting place not a final destination. You must have connection in order to be able to have feelings in patterns. I hear very often: "I need more patterns because I get bored with the ones I know. If you don't have a connection to develop feelings, you will always be bored no matter how many patterns you know.
With connection, you should be able to dance any pattern and not get bored because you are experiencing the feeling of your partner not a mechanical pattern. Connection is more than capable of generating goose bumps on both sides of the partnership.