Eileen began teaching dance in 1965. During her amateur dance career, Eileen was a champion dancer winning many awards, scholarships and bursaries. To this day is the only Cape Breton dancer to win the prestigious Mary Dundas Memorial award for the most proficient sword dance three consecutive years. Mary Dundas was a former world-class champion who took an interest in Eileen & instructed her many times.
She has trained over 50 teachers of dance, some of whom now have their own schools of dance, both locally and abroad.
Her professional credentials include:
Fellow of the British Association of Teachers of Dance,
Member of the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance,
Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Adjudicator’s Panel,
ScotDance Canada, and
Dance Nova Scotia.
Dr. Eileen (Pottie) Forrester
A dancer and teacher for 61 years, Dr. Eileen Pottie Forrester is a true ambassador for the Scottish culture and heritage of Cape Breton Island.
At age 9, Eileen won an audition for commercials that were broadcast during the NHL "Hockey Night In Canada" and sponsored by Imperial Esso. She also did commercials for Hamilton's Biscuits. Some of her early performances were on the popular television shows "Down Cape Breton Way" with the late Lloyd McInnis, "Cape Breton Ceilidh", as well as the national show "Ceilidh" with Allistar McInnis of Scotland.
In 1967, Eileen performed at Expo '67 and then went on to Parliament for a solo dance performance. She also represented Nova Scotia that same year in Newfoundland for "Centennial Celebrations". In 1973, Eileen and her dancers were invited by then Minister of States office to partake in the first Multicultural Festival ever held in Canada which took place in Ottawa. It proved to be a wonderful event and Cape Breton's own, Rita MacNeil was also a performer during this festival.
Eileen’s early teachers were her two older sisters, Sandra (a highland dancer and Pipe band drummer), and Faye (a highland dancer and bagpiper). The Pottie sisters carried on the tradition of passing on the Celtic dance culture on Cape Breton Island for over 70 years. Much of Eileen’s professional dancing has been guided by former world Highland dance champion, Sandra Bald Jones, Scotland, now living in Ontario. Eileen’s mother, the late Eileen Pottie, was instrumental behind the scenes, instilling and promoting the love of Scottish dance. This same love, Eileen tries to pass on to each and every one of her dancers that have come and gone throughout the years.
To My Mother
"It was when I had my first child, that I understood how much she loved me. Thank you mom for instilling in me the love and pride in our culture and first & foremost always striving to ensure that every time I performed......I had fun!!"
- Eileen Forrester
Eileen was the first officially licensed teacher of dance on Cape Breton Island as well as the first Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Adjudicator on the Island, which enables her to adjudicate highland dance competitions worldwide, which has included across Canada, the United States and the Commonwealth Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Much of what the Forrester School of Dance has become today has been influenced by the memory of Eileen’s mother, the late Eileen Pottie. The honor and pride of Scottish heritage is evident in every aspect of not only the company, but also in its dancers.
In 2015, Eileen received an Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Cape Breton University for her significant contribution to the Scottish Culture and heritage of Cape Breton Island. Today, Eileen teaches alongside her daughter Shannon Forrester who is carrying on the family tradition of teaching dance which has now existed for over 70 years.