The University will award the Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal to Ashley Wheater, artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet. Prof. David Levin will introduce Wheater at the University of Chicago’s 523rd Convocation on Saturday, June 13, where the medal will be presented.
Wheater joined The Joffrey Ballet as its artistic director in 2007, at a time when the company had lost some members of its leadership and was struggling to maintain a competitive position in the dance world.
An experienced former dancer who previously had performed with The Joffrey Ballet, Wheater quickly took the company on a new course. He commissioned works by innovative young choreographers such as James Kudelka and Edwaard Liang, and staged classic masterpieces by George Balanchine and Lar Lubovitch among others.
Under Wheater’s direction, The Joffrey Ballet has undertaken possibly the most extensive touring schedule of any dance company in history. Wheater also founded the Academy of Dance, which sees its more than 800 students from across the country join leading dance companies around the world.
Wheater was born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England. After performing in numerous ballets at Covent Garden and the London Coliseum, he joined the London Festival Ballet and was promoted to principal dancer. He has performed in the Australian Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet, in which he also served as ballet master and assistant artistic director.
Wheater is the 51st recipient of the Rosenberger Medal, established in 1917 by Jesse L. and Susan Colver 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.”
Members of the UChicago faculty nominate candidates for the Rosenberger Medal. The faculty Committee on Awards and Prizes then evaluates the nominations, which are finally voted upon by the Council of the University Senate.
The President of the University extends an invitation to Rosenberger nominees to receive their medals during the Spring Quarter Convocation. The nominees also are invited to give a public lecture or workshop the following academic year.