As a ballroom dancer, specifically as a follower, I never think in patterns while I'm actually dancing (anymore, of course I did as a beginner). There are basically only three steps, forward, back, and to the side (or four, if you count diagonal steps). I routinely do each of them in half a beat, a whole beat, or over two, and sometimes three, beats, in different combinations. Of course, each different dance has its own characteristic combinations, and there are some contraints--it is central to ballroom that each dance bears a particular relationship to the rhythm and phrasing of the music, and that results in each different dance's characteristic combination of step/beat relationships. So I won't use all the possible step-beat combinations in any one dance (though it would be possible), but I certainly will over the course of an evening. It may be somewhat different for leaders, since they have to direct us both and think ahead, but I suspect advanced leaders don't really think in set patterns as such either. I'm not particularly "advanced"--silver in American smooth and straddling bronze-silver in latin. But I've danced for a while and had good teaching. It takes a while to get to the point of not thinking exclusively in patterns because that is how ballroom is introduced (for various reasons, some inherent to ballroom and some practical/financial).