Born in Bolzano, Italy, in 1964, Ivan Cavallari received his initial training at the Teatro alla Scala Ballet School in Milan. His teachers recognized his talent by awarding him a scholarship to the Bolchoi Ballet School in Moscow in 1981, where he continued his training until 1983. From 1984 to 1985, he danced with the Scala Ballet School before joining the Stuttgart Ballet in 1986, where he became a soloist and then principal dancer under the successive directorships of Marcia Haydée and Reid Anderson. He danced all the leading roles of John Cranko’s ballets and regularly staged the latter’s works with the Royal Ballet Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, the Czech National Ballet, among many other companies. He also staged numerous works by Uwe Scholz, and choreographed ballets for the Stuttgart Ballet, the State Opera Ballet in Hanover, the Lodz State Opera Ballet in Poland, the Mannheim Ballet, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the Staatsgallerie Stuttgart and the Liaoning Ballet of China.
From 2007 to 2012, he was the Artistic Director of the West Australian Ballet, the oldest dance company in Australia. In 2013, he was named the Artistic Director of the Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin, where he staged such works as Dolly in April 2013, and his own choreographies of Pinocchio in 2014 and The Nutcracker in 2016.
He took over the helm of Les Grands Ballets as Artistic Director as of the 2017-2018 season. As choreographer, he created new works such as Presto-Detto and Giselle, taking the company's repertoire in a resolutely classical direction while remaining rooted in modernity. His version of Romeo & Juliet premiered in March 2022 at Place des Arts in Montreal.