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SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.

We teamed up with Jeté Society again to present today’s SUMMER RULES, which features Tamako Miyazaki of The Washington Ballet! She just had her first child, and while she wishes she could go home to Japan to introduce her parents to their new grandchild, she’s been keeping her cool here in the US by going easy on herself, enjoying homegrown vegetables and frozen fruits, spending time with her husband’s family and more:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

I usually go home (Tokyo) during summer when the company season is over. I usually spend time with my family and friends, and take family trips in Japan; for example, going to Okinawa is amazing and I love it! Sometimes I also perform in Japan, but this year with the COVID situation I’m not seeing my family and friends. It is sad! Especially because I just had my first baby girl in April and my family hasn’t have chance to meet her and hold her yet…she is also my parents’ first grandchild!

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

When my baby is napping I do my own ballet barre at home. I sometimes take online classes through Zoom, but I found myself getting frustrated seeing some teachers who have nice studios and floors for ballet giving combinations that are not good for small living space with badly conditioned floors, so I decided to take my own classes. Also, I’m still recovering from giving birth; my body is completely different compared to when I used dance full-time, so I’m taking it so slow. Otherwise, lots of time with the baby!

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?

I actually did not spend July 4th in US the last 5 years! So it was fun feeling the vibes even though we didn’t go out to see fireworks. We still got to see some from our rooftop!

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

Just staying home as much as possible, and wear a mask when you are in public. Also, this is not a normal time, so giving yourself treats is important. I try not to be too hard on myself. Not doing ballet class everyday is okay, not stretching is okay, having some ice cream is okay, staying bed all day is okay! Mental health is the most important thing right now!

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?

TWB dancers who are in town have been wearing masks handmade by Mena! She is one of The Washington Ballet woman’s committee members, and she provides a food pantry every month for dancers! She also takes dance pictures of us, check out XMB photography!!

As far as outfits go, I’m just wearing things that have easy access for nursing! When I was pregnant I was excited to wear my regular clothes after giving the birth, but I didn’t realize my choices would still be limited, because your baby cries when she is hungry and you need quick access there! 

Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now? What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?

I started growing tomatoes, eggplants, sweet peppers , shishito peppers and basil this summer. 

I love making caprese with mozzarella and my homegrown tomatoes and basil. Just put some olive oil, sweet balsamic vinegar and salt!

If you wanna go more Japanese, similar to the way my mom does it, try tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado with olive oil, soy sauce with a bit of wasabi mixed together, and there you have it!

I just love frozen fruits too! Frozen grapes, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen peaches, frozen watermelon, frozen bananas, even frozen apples! I recommend cutting them before you put them in freezer. I just eat them as is or put them in wine, make some mixed drinks with it, make smoothies with yogurt, or mix with vanilla ice cream and make a fresh milkshake!

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

We were planning to do a Catalina Island family trip! That’s where my mother in law is from! I have never been to Catalina Island, but my husband’s family always talk about it and it is one of my bucket list items. 

And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?

Instead of Catalina Island we went to Lake Anna in VA. It’s less than 2 hours away driving from the DC area. My husband’s grandma invited the family to a lake house, and we had some fun times there! There were 4 generations of us in same house, and we got to spend a lot of family time together. It was special! There was a lake in front of house and we just went into the water, kayaking and jet skiing. It was a big house and had its own lake space.