Gerhard Bohner was born in Karlsruhe in 1936, where he went to gymnast and dance school between 1954 and 1958 before continuing his studies in the Berlin studio of Mary Wigman, who made a lasting impression on him.
After first professional engagements in Mannheim and Frankfurt/Main between 1958 and 1961, Tatjana Gsovsky invited him to join the Deutsche Oper Berlin as a group member in 1961 and promoted him to soloist in 1964. With Gsovsky's touring company, the Berlin Ballet – describable as dramatic-avantgardistic dance theatre – he was introduced to a variety of different forms of expression and participated in many national and international guest performances. In 1964, Bohner began working independently as a choreographer and went on to win second prize (directly after Pina Bausch) at the Choreographic Competition of the Cologne Summer Dance Academy in 1969. Perhaps his most important group choreography, The Tortures of Beatrice Cenci premiered in 1971. The production toured extensively, thus establishing him as a leading international choreographer.
In 1972, and again in 1992, he received the German Critics Association Award. Between 1972 and 1975, he was artistic director of the Tanztheater Darmstadt. He was also artistic director of the Tanztheater Bremen between 1978 and 1981, together with Reinhild Hoffmann, after which he lived as an independent choreographer in Berlin where he collaborated on many occasions with the Academy of Arts. These joint ventures resulted in a series of outstanding soloist pieces which he toured with extensively until shortly before his death.
He died in 1992 in Berlin.