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QUARTET - four-part harmony from a recollected life -

memoir by JUDITH REN-LAY

260-page softcover paperback

A dancer/performer's life over seven decades in four books, each separate from the others, to weave a harmony of voices considering life as it has been lived from differing perspectives.


I. Soprano - Life Revisited - early life from birth to 32 

II. Alto - Aesthetic Practicalities - forty years making art 

III. Tenor - Through a Wry Kaleidoscope - a collage of edited journals

IV. Bass - Accidental Grit - when, in a violent instant, a car hits you head on 


Quartet was completed during the pandemic, published in anticipation of her 80th birthday.  Judith Ren-Lay began as a dancer, born in Denver CO. After teaching in South Carolina and New Haven CT she moved to New York City in 1975, and subsequently became known as choreographer, singer, composer, poet, installation and performance artist with archives in dance and music at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Quartet includes 75 photos and illustrations, Ren-Lay's original drawings and photo collages as well as performance photographs by 17 guest photographers including Dona Ann McAdams, Mariette Pathy Allen, Frank Siciliano, Robert Grasmere and Jim R. Moore. 


Kenneth King

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Dancer's Multimedia Transformation

Reviewed  on January 23, 2023

From the moment I opened "Quartet," I couldn't put it down, marveling at the range of writings, experiences, history, genes mix, and terrific photographs, even those of the author on pointe!--who would have imagined?! Judith Ren-Lay's spirited honesty and forthrightness are poignant, engaging, intriguing, and her heartfelt prose is clear and riveting. The book's layout is dynamic and varied, and like a dance, invites and leads the reader to discover this multimedia dance artist's history in multiple ways with many reflective layers and overlapping insights--Brava & Bravo!
Kenneth King, author of "Writing in Motion: Body--Language--Technology"

Catherine Hartshorn

5.0 out of 5 stars


Reviewed on February 23, 2023

This is a story of a creative life, expressed in amazingly varied ways – through dance, performance, art, and writing. This also is a story of unwavering dedication to live the life of an artist, including the dogged perseverance needed to do so. The book is well written, self-insightful, honest, easy to read, and inspiring. Her ability to stay sane in the face of horrendous physical limitations (cause by an accident) is more than most people would be able to endure. I marvel at her strength.

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