Ohad Naharin was born in 1952 in Kibbutz Mizra. Raised in an artistic home, he wrote stories, composed music, and painted as a child. His father was a psychologist specializing in psychodrama and an actor who performed with Habima and the Haifa Theater. His mother was a Feldenkrais instructor, choreographer and dancer.
 Nevertheless, Naharin did not start dancing until age 22. During his first year with the Batsheva Dance Company, Martha Graham visited Israel and invited Naharin to join her dance company in New York. After dancing for Martha Graham, he attended Juilliard and the School of American Ballet.
In 1978, he married Mari Kajiwara, a native New Yorker and an Alvin Ailey dancer. In 2001, she died of cancer at age 50.
He is now married to Eri Nakamura, a Batsheva dancer with whom he has a daughter.