Ashley C. Wheater was born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England. While at the school he worked with Frederick Ashton in Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice, and performed at Covent Garden in numerous productions such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and The Dream. Having graduated to the upper school of the Royal Ballet, Mr. Wheater danced in many of the full-length productions and performed with Rudolph Nureyev in Nureyev and Friends at the London Coliseum.
After leaving the Royal Ballet, Mr. Wheater joined the London Festival Ballet where he continued to work with Nureyev in his Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty and Glen Tetley in Sphinx and Greening, along with a huge 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-lengths.
At the invitation of Gerald Arpino in 1985, 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 to cultivate his creative career while working with Helgi Tomasson, James Kudelka, David Bintley and many more. In 1997 he retired from dancing and was appointed ballet master at the San Francisco Ballet and later named assistant to the artistic director.
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 as well as to the repertoire through the invitation of world-class choreographers as well as young, up-and-coming choreographers to create for the company. Mr. Wheater has added a new full length to the Joffrey’s repertoire, Lar Lubovitch’s ground-breaking Othello.
In 2008 Mr. Wheater was the recipient of the Boeing Game-Changer Award in recognition of his commitment to reaching out to Chicago communities promoting diversity through the many forms of dance.