Ashley Wheater was born in Scotland and trained at The Royal Ballet School in England. He worked with Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, and Michael Somes in ballets at Covent Garden and danced with Rudolf Nureyev in Nureyev and Friends at the London Coliseum. Mr. Wheater joined the London Festival Ballet under the artistic direction of John Field, where he was promoted to Principal Dancer at the age of 20.
In 1982, he joined the Australian Ballet where he continued dancing principal roles until 1985 when he joined the Joffrey Ballet at the invitation of Gerald Arpino. Joining the San Francisco Ballet in 1989, he continued his career under Helgi Tomasson. In 1997, he retired from dancing and was appointed Ballet Master then Assistant to the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ballet.
Since his appointment in 2007 as artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet, his passion for and commitment to the Joffrey has been evident in the quality that he has brought to the dancing and repertoire.
In 2008, Mr. Wheater was the recipient of the Boeing Game-Changer Award in recognition of his commitment to community engagement in Chicago. He sits on the Advisory Board for Dance Magazine, serves as the Artistic Advisor for ChiArts, and is the Advisor to the Arts for the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, where he was named the Lincoln Academy Laureate, the highest honor presented by the state of Illinois, in 2010.
In 2013, the Chicago Tribune named him “Chicagoan of the Year”, and he received the University of Chicago Rosenberger Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Creative and Performing Arts in 2015. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.