Frame: The purpose of frame in ballroom is convey the connection between the Leader and the Follower. In Standard Frame, this helps both partners to move as one unit. In Latin Frame, this allows partners to go into open frame, yet still maintain connection. Creating a good frame is hard. Maintaining it is even harder. But best of luck, because a good frame is key to dancing well and enjoying ballroom dance.

Note: Because avoiding gender-pronouns is a headache and difficult to do, I will refer to the Leader as "him" and the Follower as "her." But, these are most certainly not gender-confined roles.

Leader: The purpose of the Leader is to twofold. First, the Leader guides both himself and his partner. He decides where to go on the dance floor and avoids other dance couples to the best of his ability. Second, the Leader channels Energy. He provides the impetus, the first movement. Note that in certain dances, such as Viennese Waltz, the partners do take turn in providing the energy to propel the couple further. But the Leader provides the first push and is the usual maintainer.

Follower: The purpose of the Follower consists of one main responsibility and multiple main secondaries. The main responsibility is to channel the energy provided by the Leader. What exactly does this entail? Well, part of it is looking good. But the main part is to be efficient with the energy by not wasting it. This means not dragging down on the Leader's shoulders, not impeding movement, etc. Secondary responsibilities include: looking over the Leader's shoulder to ensure other couples aren't incoming (crash) and providing energy when necessary.

Standard Frame: Standard frame is often referred to as "closed" frame. This is because if you were to trace the frame starting from the leader's left hand, across his back, to his right arm, it would go into the follower's back, which would go into the follower's right hand and consequently link back to the leader's left hand. In order to maintain this closed loop, there are 5 main points of connection (with caveats in each particular dance).

1) Leader's left hand, follower's right hand: This is the very first point. When a Leader asks for a dance, this is the opening gesture. This is also the first point the Follower connects to. A proper connection is the following: put your left and right hands together (you can practice this yourself in fact). Turn the left hand 30 degrees left and the right hand 30 degrees right. They clasp into each other. This is what you want with your partner.

Furthermore, comfort is important. Be considerate to your partner. This means accounting for the 3 ranges of motion of where the hand can be placed: vertical, L and R, posterior/anterior. With vertical, you have to consider height. If this contact point is too high or too low, it'll be uncomfortable to one person or both. For L and R, this also relates to differences in height. Partners may have different arm lengths. So, bend the arm at the elbow and adjust comfortably so both partners don't have their arms fully straight or fully bent. Finally, with posterior and anterior, both partner's are in front of them, no exceptions. However, the Leader's left arm is more in front of him than the Partner's right arm for her. It's a 60-40 mix. This compromise allows for the Leader to channel energy into the Follower yet still allow the Follower to remain comfortable.

2) Leader's right hand, follower's back/left shoulder blade. This is the second point of contact since it's where the Leader's right hand goes after asking someone for a dance. Furthermore, if we imagine a hinge, the first point of contact was the 3 screws that connect the flat metal plate to the door. The second point of contact is the other flat plate that connects to the wall. The right hand provides back support and allows the Follower to "stretch." Like a flower, the Follower elongates the back and her frame up and left to make herself look bigger and better. But in order to do so, support is needed to help counteract these forces. This comes in the form of the Leader's right hand.

Exact placement will vary depending on the relative sizes of the two partners. Placement is influenced mainly by the arm length of the partners. This is because while the Leader's right hand is on the back of the Follower's, the follower's left arm rests on the Leader's right arm. So, if the right arm is too far in or not far in enough, the left arm is either stretched or compressed uncomfortably. Note that with the right hand, the main force comes from the palm of the hand, not the fingers. So while the entire right hand is on the follower's back, it's the heel of the hand that provides the power and support.

3&4) Leader's right arm, Follower's left arm. If the first two points are the metal plates of the hinges, then these two points represent the hinge itself. They connect the two main parts of connection and provide connection themselves. When the follower's left arm rests on the leader's right, there will be a point of contact on the forearm and a point of contact on the upper arm.

Points 1 and 2 allow for the Leader to communicate 2 things: rotation, forward/backward movement. If he wishes to rotate, then he twists his body accordingly and keeps his arms in position to communicate this. Moving forward and backward, the right hand helps the follower move forward while the left hand helps move backward. Note that with both rotation and forward/backward, the main body plays a crucial role and that these arm positions are where the energy is channeled but not the origin of energy.

Points 3 and 4 allow for vertical movement. Since the two arms should always be in contact, the leader can use these two points to communicate increase or decrease in height. In addition, he can also use these to communicate sway or changes in the Transverse plane. Again, the main movement stems from the body, but these points help communicate the intent.

5) Hip Connection. Easily the most difficult of the 5 points as it's hard to create and hard to maintain. The leader's right side connects with the follower's left side. This helps the couple to move as a unit. Where exactly this occurs is dependent on the relative heights of the partners. If the height disparity is greater, then the offset is greater. If less, then less offset. This is because a very tall leader with a shorter follower who doesn't have enough offset will essentially run over his partner.

Tango: One of the caveat dances. Has a closer frame, though not as close as Argentine Tango. The Leader's hand is placed is placed in the small of the back of the Follower. Consequently, the follower's left hand hooks beneath the leader's right armpit. If she didn't, then her left elbow would be compressed uncomfortably.

Latin Frame: Latin frame is similar to standard frame when its closed, but a bit more loose. This is because in Latin, you may have to switch from closed to open frames and back again. The specifics of both are dependent upon the moves you do and I haven't gotten down to that level of detail. But there is one thing I will describe in detail.

Connection: Your instructor(s) will likely tell you over and over again that you need to have "connection" in Latin. In fact, they may demonstrate it with you. And they'll tell you to loosen up your arms, allow energy to flow, all while you're looking at them with a blank stare. Connection in Latin is what you use to substitute for the connection you would normally obtain in closed frame in Standard.

What connection allows you to do is still guide your partner if you're not in the Standard closed frame (either one-hand hold or two hand-hold, etc.) It's a push-pull feel that allows you to stretch time and still feel connected to one another. Think of this as a rubber band. In standard, you're like a ring, a unit and closed frame. But with Latin, the rubber band is you're stretching and pulling.

Connection is very subtle in Latin but a necessary component. It's a lot of "feel" so it is difficult to describe. But I can assure you that when you dance with levels of dancers, you are able to tell who has a "good" connection. It's a "heaviness" on the dance floor that conveys where the body is and how to move.

Don't do: Don't use your arm muscles. There's a difference between channeling your body weight through your arms as part of the connection and forcibly using your arm muscles. The former feels good; the latter constricting. Practice channeling energy on a wall by placing both hands on the wall and sending your weight forwards and backwards. Your elbows will bend, but this should be a consequence of your weight shift and nothing else.

Finally, is this isn't making sense, don't worry. It's taken me a year, 5 different instructors for me to start to understand what I have to do, much less describe it. So keep at it and ask lots of questions.

Height: Note that ideally, the Leader would be tall. This is because tall people are more easily seen on the dance floor in competition. And it provides easier sightlines (imagine being short and not being able to see where to go because of tall bodies all around you). The Follower would hopefully be slightly shorter than the Leader.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always occur. Let us take the following situations.

Tall Leader, Short Follower: The leader adjust his frame to match the follower. It's slightly uncomfortable for the leader, but it's easier to lower the arms than it is to raise them (that's how body anatomy works).

Short Leader, Tall Follower: Do the best you can. This time, the follower will need to adjust to the leader.

Floorcraft: Definitely mentioned this in another page, but the Leader is the primary driver and avoids collisions with other couples. But the problem here is that the Leader has a blind spot: his back. And conveniently enough, the Follower is able to observe that blind spot. If a couple does come rampaging and is about to crash into the back of the Leader, the Follower squeezes the Leader's hand to let him know.