Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater will be awarded the University of Chicago Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal at UChicago’s 523rd Convocation, on June 13.
Established in 1917 by Mr. and Mrs. Jesse L. Rosenberger, the medal recognizes achievement through research, in authorship, in invention, for discovery, for unusual public service or for anything “deemed of great benefit to humanity.”
Wheater joined The Joffrey Ballet as its artistic director in 2007, following the tenures of founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. An experienced former dancer who previously had performed with the company, Wheater took the company on a new course, commissioning works by young choreographers such as James Kudelka and Edwaard Liang, and staging classic masterpieces by George Balanchine, Lar Lubovitch (“Othello”), Ronald Hynd (“The Merry Widow”), among others.
Born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England, Wheater’s dance resume also boasts the London Festival Ballet, the Australian Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet, in which he also served as ballet master and assistant artistic director. He performed at Covent Garden in numerous productions, including “Swan Lake” and “Giselle,” and performed with Rudolph Nureyev in “Nureyev and Friends” at the London Coliseum.
In a 2007 New York Times interview, Wheater gave some insight into his vision for the Joffrey Ballet: “I want the Joffrey to be the company that it started out being, which was eclectic, with a huge respect for where we’ve come from.”