Rockette Monika: Determined to Make the Line

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Radio City Rockette Monika Brinkmann Grimes shares her experience being part of an inspirational legacy of dancers. Learn more about how she represents her multicultural background on the iconic Rockette line below!

I grew up in a multicultural household in Austin, Texas, where we spoke English, Spanish and German – sometimes in the same conversation – and honored the traditions of all our cultures. My mother is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; and my father is from Monehim, Germany. My siblings and I spoke Spanish with our mom, took German in school and spoke English with each other. We joked that “Spanglerman” was the official language of our household! Some of my fondest childhood memories were of embracing my Mexican heritage, including driving across the border to Durango, Mexico right after Christmas every year to celebrate Año Nuevo with my mother’s family. I loved eating tamales, making flan with my Nana, with Tío Juan playing Luis Miguel’s greatest hits in the background.

At age 5, I started figure skating and quickly grew to love being part of a synchronized skating team. My mom, who grew up dancing baile folclórico mexicano, flamenco, and ballet in Guadalajara, put me in my first ballet class. Originally, it was to improve my skating but I ended up transitioning into a love for dance. After years of ballet training, I auditioned for my high school’s competitive precision dance team, or “drill team” as we call it in Texas. Joining drill team was another opportunity to become part of something bigger than myself. I loved working alongside a team of dedicated young women with a common goal. I performed high energy kick line routines during football pep rallies – foreshadowing another famous kickline! I became the captain of the drill team my senior year, and then wondered, “what happens next for my dance career?”

My dreams led me to New York City, where I attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts and received a BFA in Dance. During my last year at Tisch, I borrowed character heels from a friend and auditioned to be a Rockette for the first time. I had never danced in the Rockettes style, but I thought to myself: “I know a thing or two about doing a kick line!” I only made it past the first cut at that audition, but I remember leaving feeling incredibly inspired and excited to keep chasing this dream to join this legacy. With encouragement and unwavering support from my family, I continued training and auditioning. Two years later, following my third audition, I received the call that changed my life – an offer to become a Radio City Rockette!

Being a Rockette, dancing at Radio City Music Hall, and performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade have all been a dream come true. Just like my synchronized skating team and Texas drill team, the best part of being a Rockette is the privilege of performing alongside my teammates, who each have their own unique backgrounds that they bring to the line. I admire my fellow Rockettes as talented, determined, and strong individuals. They empower me to be the best version of myself on and off the stage and inspire me to keep dreaming. It’s an honor to represent my multicultural heritage as a member of this legendary line, and I hope I can inspire other Latina dancers to dream of becoming a Rockette. I am so excited to be returning to the Great Stage for my third season as a Rockette and can’t wait to see the theater come alive with dancing and holiday magic once again!