Following Nick Wilson's "Provocations on the state of Higher Arts Education" (2012, https://vimeo.com/61166384), my PhD project will explore the challenging insight that “art knows”. I will approach the process of inquiry with the intuition that “tango knows” not only by expressing human creativity and cultural identity through the symbolic language of dance, poetry and music, but also by presenting and enacting a way of being and inhabiting the world (see Unesco's Nomination and Inscription of Tango on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, 2009, www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00258; see also short documentary film on tango dancing included in the application and produced by the Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires, featuring interviews of great tango dancers, www.youtube.com/watch?t=231&v=5zSWuMUhKIk). Therefore, emphasis will be placed not on theory (of theatre/dance and community development) but on the Tango itself as a practical-methodological perspective. Research will be based on observing, listening to and engaging with the work of other tango artists, while trying at the same time to make sense performatively and poetically of my own art-making (see Bree Hadley, 2013 for a discussion on what constitutes performance and performance as research, www.adsa.edu.au/research/performance-as-research).
From a practical-methodological perspective, I will have to carefully consider, as argued by Rolling's and Bey's Interview on Arts-Based Research (2012, www.academia.edu/9132395/Interview_on_Arts-Based_Research_-_Dr._James_Haywood_Rolling_Jr._with_Dr._Sharif_Bey_BRAZIL) for the arts more in general, that practicing the Tango does not by default imply producing knowledge, and that tango research is typically guided by “covered” methodologies. To meet these challenges, I will be able to draw on the examples offered by a growing number of successful practice-based academic research projects (see the program of the post-doctoral symposium “The Outstanding Field” organized by the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at Melbourne University, 2015). But there are also several interesting non-academic examples of how tango artists have put the mechanisms and meanings of their art-form in a broader cultural and intellectual context (e.g., Gustavo Naveira's essay on "The New Tango", 2008), of their collaborative research projects with artists in other fields (e.g., Piazzolla and Borges's music album "El Tango", 1965, www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF7p6ZfIE50), and of how artists in other fields have inquired about the Tango (e.g., Kohan's Documentary Film "Café de los Maestros", 2008, www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnvBaS2wPV0). Indeed, I believe that making tango research more intelligible by developing a formal methodology requires not only taking seriously the reflective work of other artists (see Schon's notion of the "reflective practitioner", 1983), but also taking part regularly in the Tango community of practice.