Joyce Roberts, my first Alexander Technique teacher worked in South Africa for over 55 years. She learnt the Alexander Technique as an apprentice to one of FM Alexander’s early assistant teachers, Irene Tasker, who spent many years working in this country.
At Alexander’s instigation, Tasker came from the UK to work in Johannesburg in the 1930s, in order to spread the work. Among her pupils were anthropologist Raymond Dart, and lawyer and anti-apartheid activist, Bram Fischer.
Joyce had suffered from severe asthma all her life but once she began Alexander lessons, she never had an attack again. She was unswerving in her commitment to this work, and had an especial talent for working with children. I met her in Cape Town in 1986, and started regular lessons the following year. I took this photograph when she was 90, a year before her death. I’ve always been fascinated when adults tell me that they were sent to Joyce as children; often, as they say this, they subtly straighten up!