Remembering Dancer Phillip McClintock, MS – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Remembering Dancer Phillip McClintock, MS – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Phillip McClintock

Phillip McClintock

September 8, 2016, was the thirtieth anniversary of the death of the great Guyanese Dancer, Phillip McClintock, MS. Since his passing on September 8, 1986, the excitement of the Kathak dance, of which he was a master, has not been quite the same, here in Guyana. That is so, not only because of Phillip’s grand command of this particular Indian dance, but also because at that same period, there was another great Kathak dancer, the late Gora Singh. The two young dancers brought not a rivalry, but a fusion to the stage which they shared so many times, as they danced to very appreciative audiences.

For those who thronged the National Cultural Centre to enjoy Phillip and Gora on stage, not competing with each other, but embellishing the exciting Indian dances, especially the KATHAK, as they twirled and twirled and twirled, and members of the audience counted loudly, and applauded and cheered. It was dance at its brilliant best, embellished with fantastic costumes and enrapturing Indian melodies.  

Somehow, although Gora Singh was really good and received much admiration for his dancing abilities, Phillip somehow, almost always stole the show. He was as good as, and arguably, better than Gora; at least all of his many adoring fans thought so.

The thing about Phillip McClintock, was that he was of African heritage, yet he dominated the dance stage of Guyana for over a decade in the 1970s and into the mid-1980s. He was so much admired that as a young dancer of African Heritage, and talented to perform such a wide range of international dances, especially the Indian dances; the KATHAK, in particular; he was at the very top of his game.

As the fame of Phillip McClintock grew, over a relative short period, he was invited by the Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, to go to India and learn the history and other finer points of Indian Dance. Phillip accepted, and was given special leave from his position as an Account’s Clerk at the Ministry of Home Affairs. During the four years he studied in India, Phillip McClintock did Guyana proud, performing at many shows in that country, as he specialized in the Kathak. He also became fluent in the language.

On his way back to Guyana, Phillip spent a short period in London, England. There he was invited by fellow Guyanese, Henry Muttoo, who was studying theatre there, to perform at the popular Kiskadee Club. It was a cultural shock for the audience, most of whom were of Caribbean heritage, to see a young man of African Heritage, so talented in the Indian dance. They wanted him to spend a longer time in London and do more shows.

Phillip McClintock returned to Guyana, having received many accolades, and was as humble as ever. He received the National Award of the Medal of Service, among others. Sadly, his life was rather short; he died at age thirty three. However, for those who saw and can remember Phillip McClintock on stage at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown, and at other venues around the country, will no doubt, still remember the excellence of this African Guyanese who dominated the Indian Dance stage, over thirty years ago. I have not been able to trace any film or video of Phillip dancing, but hope that there is such somewhere available.

Also read:

Kathak  – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kathak danseuse Arushi Nishank performing at Lucknow Kathak Sansthan.

Kathak (Sanskrit: कथक) is one of the ten major forms of Indian classical dance.[1] The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers.[2] The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Kathameaning “story”, and kathaka in Sanskrit means “he who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”.[2][3]
Wandering Kathakas communicated stories from the great epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music in a manner similar to early Greek theatre.[3] Kathak evolved during the Bhakti movement, particularly by incorporating childhood and stories of Hindu god Krishna, as well as independently in the courts of north Indian kingdoms.[2][4]
This is a video to demonstrate some aspects of Kathak dancing by a male dancer.
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 09/09/2016 at 12:11 pm

    Francis Quamina Farrier, thanks for honoring the memory of Phillip McClintock. He was a dear friend who left us too soon.

  • Hazel Woolford  On 09/09/2016 at 2:02 pm


  • demerwater  On 09/09/2016 at 2:31 pm

    Once again, the name ‘Neville Harper’ comes up to haunt me.
    He was a singer during my parents’ generation. He was a singer of classic East Indian songs; and was a Black-man!
    I have got to the stage where I am becoming unsure of the name, even.

  • Aileen Hintzen  On 09/09/2016 at 8:39 pm

    Philip McCltock was a genius, Kathak was a part of his life, thank you for remembering him Francis

  • Ken Corsbie  On 10/15/2016 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for reminding us..

  • Rudolph Mc Bean  On 01/09/2017 at 12:52 am

    Thanks Mr Farancis Quamina Farrier for shedding some light on this African Guyanese giant who mastered the classic kathak Indian dance. I was aiso a student of this great master in the early 80s.He was one of a kind..Born to dance that dance..just majical..Its so sad that the Min of Education or the History and Arts Council cant find a video clip of his performances

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: