Brown takes her many talents to UCLA

Brown takes her many talents to UCLATeenage singer/dancer/multi-instrumentalist Britney Brown with her mother, Cerro Coso instructor Yihfen Chen, after graduating with six associate’s degrees in May. — Courtesy photo



News Review Staff Writer

Some of us work our whole lives to achieve our dreams — capturing leading roles in the theater, choreographing a ballet, producing a classical music concert, earning six associate’s degrees … Britney Brown did all of these things in about a year. Oh, and she’s almost 18.

Born to local China Lake Engineer Duane Brown and Cerro Coso Community College Instructor Yihfen Chen, Britney has been part of the local performing arts scene since she began ballet lessons at Cate DeMin’s Sierra Academy of Dance when she was in preschool.

“I was always really shy, and dancing was easier than talking,” said Britney on why she took up performing. “It was the best way to express myself.”

The rest is history as she has been a regular on the local ballet stage for more than a decade and now teaches at DeMin’s studio. She recently choreographed and co-starred in “Samsara,” Sierra Academy’s Indian-inspired, visually spectacular Bollywood Ballet.

But dancing was just the beginning for Britney. She began vocal and piano lessons at a young age, and she has honed these skills over the years as she touched on other aspects of the stage.

She spent several summers at Arrowbear’s jazz and choral music camps and in 2016 she landed the tragic role of Beth March in Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society’s “Little Women.”

“‘Little Women’ was the first time I auditioned for a musical to do anything other than dancing,” said Britney. “And I knew after that I wanted to pursue performing.”

In 2017 she followed up her heart-wrenching performance with the equally tragic role of Lilly in Community Light Opera and Theatre Associations’s “Secret Garden” and the Ghost of Christmas Past in RMES’s “A Christmas Carol.”

“Performing just takes me over sometimes. I do things I don’t even realize I’m doing,” she said. “I love the feeling when I’m on stage performing, especially when I’m dancing. It’s like I’m no longer me. I really want to do this forever.”

In spring 2018 she organized the Young Artists of Ridgecrest concert. The Desert Community Orchestra holds its Young Artists concert each year where it features a select few talented young musicians, but Britney thought there was just too many local young, talented musicians for just a few of them to be relegated to one concert. So she put on her own – how hard could it be?

Britney gathered half a dozen singers and instrumentalists who presented two nights of classical music, free of charge, for the public. Britney was also one of the performers, singing Offenbach’s “Les Oiseaux Dans la Charmille” (The Doll Song).

On the night one of the other performers couldn’t make it because of illness, Britney dusted off her violin and played “Concerto for Two Violins” (The Bach Double) with fellow musician Ellie King.

Did I mention she was also a violinist?

Yes – in addition to vocal and piano lessons, Britney plays the violin and sat in one season with the DCOA (when she could pencil them in).

Her next project is singing the role of Susanna in the Ridgecrest Opera Guild’s “Marriage of Figaro.” While this isn’t her first operatic performance, it will be the first time she’s had a chance to work some choreographed dancing into an opera. “I always want to do something that incorporates both dance and music,” she said, “so this will be a really fun opportunity.”

While Britney has been on her performance streak, she’s also been taking classes at Cerro Coso.

Did I mention she earned six associate’s degrees?

Since 2014, Britney gained three associate of science degrees (math, engineering and computer sciences) and three associate of arts degrees (arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences and math and science). She’s transferring to University of California Los Angeles this fall to major in statistics — the same major both of her parents had.

“My dad came home one day and said, ‘Women drivers are the worst.’ I disagreed, so I decided to do a project on it,” said Britney. She did some research, complimented by local scientific observations, and concluded that driving ability had more to do with age than it did with gender.

“I presented the information to my honors statistics course and my professor was very impressed,” she said. She went on to present on “Invalid Assumptions on Life Data Analysis” at an Honors Transfer Council of California conference at UC Irvine.

She said she is pursuing statistics as a major not only because of her parents, but also because she thinks a lot of people rely on misleading or false data and she wants to change that. But Britney admits her math pursuits are just a “safety net” – she’s not giving up on performing.

“Right now I’m also working on writing a play,” she said. “The big dream is to be a performer or maybe a director. I’d also like to run a dance studio.”

She said she hopes to double major in musical theater or some sort of performance subject, but may have to settle for a minor in music if that’s all her schedule allows.

“I also want to come back to Ridgecrest eventually – the community gave me so much,” she said. “Education-wise, performing-wise, socially – I think it just helped me all around. People say there’s nothing to do here, but I feel like I’ve had so many opportunities.”

She already gives back to the community by volunteering for youth activities like chess camp.

Did I mention she’s an accomplished chess player?

She says that she’s not as good as her brother, Geoffrey, but that it’s fun and she really enjoys volunteering at the tournaments.

As accomplished as she is, Britney is quick to give credit where credit is due.

She said her parents have always encouraged her greatly. She also thanked piano instructor Patrick Rindt, vocal instructor David Hodgson, dance instructor Cate DeMin and organizations like RMES for all of the performing opportunities.

“The only reason I’m where I am is because all of the people who have helped, taught and mentored me,” she said. “There’s probably a lot more, but I’m so thankful for all these people.”

Story First Published: 2018-07-27