Born in 1952 on Kibbutz Mizra, Ohad Naharin began his dance training with Batsheva Dance Company in 1974. During his first year with the company, Martha Graham, on a visit to Israel, recognized his talent and invited him to join her eponymous dance company in New York.

While there, he studied at the School of American Ballet and the Juilliard School and with Maggie Black and David Howard. He went on to perform internationally with Israel's Bat-Dor Dance Company and Maurice Bejart's Ballet du XXe Siecle, in Brussels.

Naharin returned to New York in 1980, making his choreographic debut at the Kazuko Hirabayashi studio. That year, he formed the Ohad Naharin Dance Company with his wife, Mari Kajiwara, who died of cancer in 2001. From 1980 to 1990 the company performed in New York and abroad to great critical acclaim, and he was commissioned to choreograph for companies including Batsheva, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and Nederlands Dans Theater.

Naharin has been artistic director of Batsheva since 1990, choreographing more than 20 works for the company and its junior division, the Batsheva Ensemble.

Among the honors Naharin has been awarded are honorary doctorates from the Weizmann Institute of Science and from Hebrew University (2004 and 2008, respectively ), the Israel Prize for dance (2005 ) and the EMET Prize in the category of arts and culture (2009 ), as well as France's Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1998 ), two New York Dance and Performance (Bessie ) Awards (in 2002 and 2003 ), and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009 ).