Grew up mainly in Washington, DC, and New York after moving several times as a child due to his father's military career. Made his Broadway debut at 16 as the Scarecrow in The Wiz. Won a Tony Award and an Astaire Award for his performance in the Broadway production of The Tap Dance Kid, although he had only taken up tap dancing three years prior. Created a hybrid of dance styles known as swop (swing and hip-hop) that was featured in the film Idlewild (2006), which Battle choreographed. Founded the Hinton Battle Theatre Laboratory, a nonprofit that brings theater performances to ethnically and economically diverse audiences.