Ashley C. Wheater has dedicated his life to dance. He was born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England. He worked with Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, and Michael Somes in numerous ballets at Covent Garden, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Manon, Anastacia and The Dream. Mr. Wheater danced with Rudolph Nureyev in Nureyev and Friends at the London Coliseum.
On Mr. Nureyev’s advice, Mr. Wheater joined the London Festival Ballet and danced in his Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. He danced in Glen Tetley’s Sphinx and Greening and in Festival Ballet’s large repertoire of classics and new creations. Under the artistic direction of John Field he was promoted to principal dancer at the age of 20.
In 1982 he joined the Australian Ballet where he continued dancing principal roles in both classical and contemporary work, especially in the John Cranko full-length ballets.
In 1985, at the invitation of Gerald Arpino, Mr. Wheater joined The Joffrey Ballet. For the next four years he performed various works by American choreographers including William Forsythe, Gerald Arpino, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, and Laura Dean, as well as repertoire by Ashton and Cranko.
Joining the San Francisco Ballet in 1989 he continued his creative career working under Helgi Tomasson, and with choreographers James Kudelka, David Bintley and many more. In 1997 he retired from dancing and was appointed ballet master and, later, assistant to the artistic director at the San Francisco Ballet.
Since his appointment in 2007 as artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet, his passion and commitment to the Joffrey have been evident in the quality that he has brought to the dancing and to the repertoire. He has invited world-renowned choreographers, as well as fresh young talent, to create new work for the company. Mr. Wheater has added new full-length works to the Joffrey’s repertoire, including Lar Lubovitch’s groundbreaking Othello, Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow and Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote.
In 2008 Mr. Wheater was the recipient of the Boeing Game-Changer Award in recognition of his commitment to community engagement in Chicago and to the celebration of diversity through dance. In 2010, Mr. Wheater, representing The Joffrey Ballet, was named Lincoln Academy Laureate, the highest honor presented by the State of Illinois.
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