Josef Nadj was born in 1957 in Kanjiza, a province of Vojvodina in the former Yugoslavia, in what is today Serbia. Beginning in childhood, he drew, practiced wrestling, accordeon, soccer and chess, intending a career in painting.
Between the ages of 15 and 18, he studied at the fine arts high school of Novi Sad.
Afterwards, he left to study art history and music at the Academy of Fine Arts and at the University of Budapest, where he also began studying physical expression and acting.
In 1980, he left for Paris to continue his training with Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux. Simultaneously he discovered modern dance, at the time in a period of swift expansion in France.