Born in Valencia, Spain, Nacho Duato signed his first professional contract with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm in 1980. A year later, Jiří Kylián brought him to the Nederlands Dans Theater in the Netherlands, where he was quickly assimilated into the company and its repertoire. In recognition of his achievement as a dancer, Duato received the Golden Dance Award in Schouwburgen, Netherlands, in 1987. Duato’s natural talent as a dancer led him to begin exploring choreography, and his first attempt in 1983 turned into a major success: Jardí Tancat set to Catalan music by fellow Spaniard Maria del Mar Bonet won him first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop in Cologne. In 1988, Nacho Duato was named Resident Choreographer for the Nederlands Dans Theater, alongside Hans van Manen and Jiří Kylián.
In 1995, he received the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an award presented annually by the French Embassy in Spain. The Spanish Government awarded him the Golden Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts in 1998.
Duato won the Benois de la Danse — one of the most prestigious international awards for choreography, which is presented by the International Dance Association — for Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness in April 2000. In 2003, he won Spain’s National Dance Award in the Creative category. In 2010, he was awarded with the Chile Arts Critics Circle Prize, and his choreography for Na Floresta was nominated for the Golden Mask, the highest award given by Russia’s critics’ circle.
Nacho Duato became Artistic Director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid in 1990, when he was invited to take the position by the Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música of the Spanish Ministry of Culture. In 2010, he celebrated his twentieth anniversary with the Compañía Nacional de Danza, leaving in July of that year. In 2011-2014, Nacho Duato held position of the Artistic Director of the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Over the course of the years, he created several one-act ballets especially for the company such as Nunc Dimittis and Prelude, as well as productions of full-length ballets The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet. He also revived his ballets Without Words, Duende, Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness, and White Darkness.
In 2014–2018, Nacho Duato held the position of the Artistic Director of the Staatsballett Berlin and Resident Choreographer at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. In 2019, Nacho Duato returned to the Mikhailovsky Theatre as Artistic Director of the Ballet Company.