Born in Valencia, Spain, Nacho Duato started professional ballet training with the Rambert School in London at eighteen, expanding his studies at Maurice Béjart's Mudra School in Brussels and completing his dance education at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre in New York.
In 1980 Duato signed his first professional contract with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm, and a year later Jirí Kylián brought him to the Nederlands Dans Theater in Holland, where he was quickly incorporated into the company and repertoire.
For his achievements as a dancer he received the VSCD Gouden Dansprijs (Golden Dance Award) for the year 1987. Duato's natural talent soon had him look beyond the limitations of a dancer and turn towards choreography. His first attempt, in 1983, turned into a major success: Jardí Tancat, to Spanish/Catalan music by compatriot María del Mar Bonet won him the first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop (Internationaler Choreographischer Wettbewerb) at Cologne. In 1988 Nacho Duato was named Resident Choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater working alongside Hans van Manen and Jirí Kylián.
With the growing demand from international companies requesting a work of his for their repertoire, Duato had to take a decisive step in his career. His ballets form part of the repertoire of companies like Cullberg Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Deutsche Oper Ballet, Australian Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballet Gulbenkian, Finnish Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and Paris Opera Ballet.
In 1995, he received the grade of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres which is awarded annually by the French Embassy in Spain.
In 1998 the Spanish Government awarded him the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts.
In April 2000 at the Stuttgart Opera he won the Benois de la Danse, one of the most prestigious international awards for choreography, presented by the International Dance Association for Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness.
Duato is National Dance Award 2003 in the category of “Creation”. At the invitation of the Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, Nacho Duato has been Artistic Director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza since June 1990.