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Choreographing world tours with the biggest names in the music biz (hello, Britney Spears and NKOTB), photoshoots with Annie Leibovitz, inspiring a gang of Soulcyclists: all in a day's work for Sunny Walters. When we met up with this true artist, we were in awe of her humble, grounded energy-- and then we "tapped back" as she led a SoulCycle class, and became entranced by her enviable hairography skills (girl has some enviable locks, and knows how to use them). Sunny fully understands the power that comes with owning your body, being in tune with its potential, and celebrating how it can transform others. And as LDW looms, what could be more perfect than to welcome in this new shift of energy by waxing nostalgic about summer's fun, one last time? Let's #eatcleanplaydirty any season, any time. 

Name: Sunny Walters/ @sunnywalters

Age: 38

Location: NYC

Day job: Instructor at SoulCycle

Night shift: Dancer/choreographer

Morning routine: Shower • Brush teeth • Mascara • Iced coffee or matcha • Teach

Nighttime ritual: Wash face • Meditate • Pass out

I eat clean by: Eating sushi and salad for lunch mostly and drinking water

I play dirty by: My days are SUPER physical, so I have zero time for dirty deeds BUT I do play dirty through food splurges! Mexican or Italian...anything with CHEESE! Also Reese's dark chocolate mini cups…my weakness!!

My motto in life is: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”-Buddha 

Song of summer: Calvin Harris "Slide"

Go-to cocktail: I just discovered the Aperol spritz and I'm in love!

70's or 90’s: 70's HANDS DOWN for the fashion and nights at Studio 54

Signature nail polish: Anything natural (light beige or cream/pale pink)

Signature smoothie ingredients: Cacao nibs, coconut shreds, anything that sounds like dessert!

Cheat day food: Spaghetti and gigantic meatballs from Nizza in HK

Fave wellness product/ritual: Lavender oil. Either in my hair, behind the ears, in a bath or on a pillow. It's the quickest way to chill out and relax in this crazy city!!


Can you tell us a little about your journey that got you to where you are at this moment in your life? 

I started as the kid who did EVERYthing. I played violin, cello, trombone, danced. The overwhelming passion for dance took me to Orlando at 19 years old for Disney, then to LA at 21. I spent 14 years dancing for various singing artists in videos, on TV and on tours around the world. Eventually I started assisting choreographers which led me back to NY as Associate Choreographer for Ghost on Broadway. While in NY I found SoulCycle and "the rest", as they say, "is history".


What does movement mean to you?

Dance/movement are vital for me. Where people use words to express themselves, I've always been best at communicating through my body. Where words fail to capture true emotion sometimes, dance and art in general "speak" volumes.


How do you care for and honor your body, since it's the vehicle for your career and your passion?

I care for my body the way you care for a partner...by listening. If my body feels tight, I take myself to a yoga class. If I feel like I've got a lot of emotion piling up inside I take my body for a long run and push myself to open up. If I'm missing dance, I go to a ballet class. I know this body *really* well by now. This vessel is my life partner, so I just follow her lead.


As someone who inspires others, how do you stay inspired?

I find my inspiration in my surroundings. When I was in LA teaching, I often stayed at the beach and drew inspiration from the beauty of nature and just calming down and resetting. As a New Yorker, I'm inspired by music in Washington Square Park in the summer or watching kindness in others on a subway sometimes or reading a really amazing book. 


What are some rituals you have before a performance? 

As a performer, stretching and warming the body is necessary before performance. But once the body is ready, connection to any and everyone I'm performing with is key. Whether we pray in a circle or just touch one another and smile, we always connect before a take, or before a curtain rises. It's the most important moment.


How has wellness played a role in your life?

If I'm not feeling good, I absolutely can't be or give my best. So wellness---emotional and physical has always been top priority for me. Keeping the mind fed and nourished is just as important as keeping the belly fed and nourished. They don't work at their highest capacity independently!


You're always on the go; any tips, tricks or practices that help keep you grounded? Any travel secrets to share? 

Moments alone keep me grounded. I spend a lot of time giving. Through words and movement on the bike, through emotion and choreography on film, intellectually and mentally in creating a tour for a pop band. My trick to not losing my mind is finding time to do something, anything I want to do on my own. Sometimes it's just having ten minutes on my own before I get out of bed, to encourage myself or meditate (I have an app on my phone called Buddhify that I LOVE). Sometimes it's just taking a quick walk outside and sitting in the sun for a bit. I'm adamant about my ME time :)


What about beauty rituals you swear by? 

A facial twice a month with my FAVORITE esthetician (goddess named Nina who works at Aida Bicaj) She has been using Biologique Recherche on my face for YEARS, I never leave home without "a lip and a lash"! ALWAYS mascara and ALWAYS a red lip or Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream. No muss. No fuss.


You've danced with Beyonce, Britney Spears and other mega stars, as well as just choreographed the NKOTB tour and a huge feature film with Hugh Jackman--are there still big performing/career goals that are on your bucket list? 

I don't have any career goals, per se. My whole life has been one giant surprise party. I invest by committing to being disciplined with my body, but my life has pulled me in directions I never imagined. So I have no IDEA what's next! All I know is I want to keep connecting to women specifically and encouraging them at EVERY age to continue to seek whatever their version of happiness is. If it's on a bike or through dance, great! If it's through another avenue or from another planet-- I'm READY. I will continue just saying YES!!!!


What do you want your legacy to be? 

Legacy. When I leave this place I want my loved ones and those who knew me to say I followed the wind, and be inspired to do the same themselves. Creating their lives as they go. Listening to body and heart and intuition to follow the paths meant for THEM. If I can be an example of that, the ripple effect will be beautiful and happy.


Filed Under: Discover, Eat clean play dirty, Features, Interview

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