From that moment, Weaver tirelessly devoted hi…

From that moment, Weaver tirelessly devoted himself to reforming French ballet and making it a cornerstone of English civic culture.  Dancing, he asserted, could help men regulate their passions and behave with civility; it could be a social glue, a way of smoothing over the differences between people and alleviating the tensions that threatened to undermine public life.  The point was not – as it was in France – to accentuate social hierarchies, but to quell them.  Nor was politeness a mere surface or cosmetic congeniality; comportment, he believed, could actually make men morally upright – on the inside.  Better still, it could make them more equal.  Giovanni Andrea Gallini, an Italian dancing-master who had spent his life in London, took the cue.  Dancing, he said, ‘ought to be recommended to all ranks of life…It is certainly not eligible for a nobleman to have the air and port of a mechanic; but it will not be a reproach to a mechanic to have the air and port of a nobleman.’  As Steele himself put it, ‘The Appelation of a Gentleman is never to be affixed to a Man’s Circumstances.’