Born on November 10, 1949, Reinking originally trained as a ballet dancer. She studied with Marian and Illaria Ladre, a professional ballet couple who had danced for years with the Ballets Russes which later became the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. After working as a chorus girl in Coco, Wild and Wonderful, and Pippin, Reinking came to critical notice in the role of Maggie in Over Here! (Theatre World Award).
Reinking went on to originate roles in Goodtime Charley (for which she received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress in a Musical) and Bob Fosse's Dancin' (Tony nomination). She also took over leads in A Chorus Line (1976), Chicago in 1977, and Sweet Charity (1986).
In 1979 Reinking appeared in Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical film All That Jazz, in a role loosely based on her own life and relationship with Fosse. In the film, Reinking starred opposite Leland Palmer, Jessica Lange, Ben Vereen, John Lithgow, and Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon (a role loosely based on Bob Fosse). All That Jazz and Annie would be the two most popular films that Reinking would appear in.
She founded the Broadway Theater Project, a Florida training program connecting students with seasoned theater professionals, in 1994. In 1995, she choreographed the ABC television movie version of the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.
After retiring from performing, Reinking returned to the stage as Roxie Hart in the revival of Chicago in 1996. In 1996, she was asked to create the choreography ("in the style of Bob Fosse") for an all-star four-night-only concert staging of Chicago for City Center's annual Encores! Concert Series. When the producers could not obtain a suitable actress for the role of Roxie Hart, Reinking agreed to reprise the role again after almost 20 years. This concert staging of Chicago was a hit, and a few months later the production (in its concert staging presentation) was produced on Broadway, along with its cast. In November 2009 the revival celebrated its 13th year on Broadway. The revival of Chicago won numerous Tony Awards, and Reinking won the Tony Award for Choreography. She recreated her choreography for the 1997 London transfer of Chicago which starred Ute Lemper and Ruthie Henshall.
In 1998 she co-created, co-directed and co-choreographed the revue Fosse, for which she received a Tony Award co-nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.
Reinking is perhaps best known for popularizing the dance step that would later be known as "raising the roof." Reinking insisted on including the step in the choreography for the musical number "We've Got Annie" in the 1982 screen adaptation of Annie, describing it as "the expression of pure joy."
Since 2010, Reinking is focusing on a cause that's close to her heart: the fight against the negative body image associated with Marfan's Syndrome. Marfan's is a rare genetic disorder of the connective tissues. It can affect the bones, eyes and heart; people with Marfan's usually have limbs that are disproportionately long. Long perhaps, but appealing to a choreographer like Reinking.
Dance is "one of the greatest loves on my life," Ann Reinking told ABC News. "I just fell in love, that's all I wanted to do." So she set out to highlight the beauty of being different through choreographed dance, choosing to focus on accentuating the long lines and silhouettes of people struggling with Marfans.
It is a cause that is close to her heart - her son Chris was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder 15 years ago. It is a painful disease, and those with Marfans can undergo countless surgeries to correct their spines and vision; they also must remain constantly vigilant that their hearts don't grow too large.
Renking has recently been quoted as saying "The human spirit is the greatest thing on earth. To be a part of that, whether it is to have people forget their problems … we're all of a sudden tangible, right there, you can truly touch it, you can truly see it's there. That's the best thing for me."