In this video from a live 1997 performance by Michael Jackson in Munich, part of the HIStory World Tour, Noir afficionados will recognize many classic elements of crime noir in nearly every aspect of the dance: the dark suits, the guns, the dead bodies, the theme of the femme fatale. Although controversy still surrounds Jackson’s private life and possible border crossings into criminality of the most sordid sort, this dance offers strong evidence of his genius for taking tired tropes of a genre and electrifying them with new life.
It offers an interesting contrast to this piece with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse from the film version of The Band Wagon. It has many of the same elements, but with one clear exception: the femme fatale is not alluded to. She is there moving and owning the space with as much danger as can fit into a tight red dress.
And of course, there is this classic dance number from Guys and Dolls, which takes place in the subterranean world of illegal crap shoots: