Danny Sloan was born in Camden, New Jersey. Inspired by a televised performance of Alwin Nikolais, Sloan began his dance education at the late age of twenty. He received a scholarship at the Pennsylvania School of Ballet where he often fought prejudices that discouraged African-Americans from studying ballet. Sloan eventually moved to New York City and studied at the Joffrey Ballet. He found living in New York difficult and when faced with a decision between a small Broadway role or an opportunity to move to Boston and help Talley Beatty establish a dance company, he opted for the latter. In 1969 Sloan moved to Boston, the city that would become the center for his work as a performer, choreographer, and educator.