The board and administration of the Joffrey Ballet breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday, even as they beamed with a bit of pride. That is because they learned that Ashley Wheater, the company’s artistic director since 2007 — who in recent weeks was shortlisted for the hugely powerful job of artistic director of the Britain’s Royal Ballet — did not get that post and would happily continue on in Chicago. The man who did get the job is Kevin O’Hare, who has had a long association as both dancer and administrator with several major British companies, including the Royal Ballet.
“I was extremely honored and excited to even be considered,” said Wheater, who trained at the Royal Ballet school and danced with the Joffrey, the Australian Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet before coming to lead the Joffrey. “But I did not seek the job. I just received a letter asking me to come see the company and school, which I hadn’t seen for a year or so. I went to London and did that, and gave them my thoughts. And about two weeks ago they asked me to officially apply for the job, which I did. I also quickly informed the Joffrey board because I wanted them to hear the word from me, not second-hand.”