By Simon Vozick-Levinson
July 02, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Was Michael Jackson up to the challenge of the massive comeback concerts he had planned for this summer? We’ll never know the answer to that question for certain, but rehearsal footage exclusively obtained by CNN may help quiet some of the darker rumors floating around. The minute-and-a-half clip, taped at L.A.’s Staples Center on June 23 — just two days before Jackson’s tragic passing — shows the star running through part of 1995’s “They Don’t Care About Us” with a team of backup dancers.

Give it a look below. It’s hard to extrapolate any definite conclusions about his physical state from such a short clip, of course, but just watch the way he moves. It’s all there: the fluid footwork, the ease of motion, everything that made him the transcendent showman he was throughout his life. The smile that creeps onto Michael’s face at the very end of the clip, when he knows he’s nailed that routine, is simply heartbreaking. (If the cool lady playing guitar in the clip looks familiar, by the way, she’s Orianthi, who previously turned heads performing with Carrie Underwood at this year’s Grammys.)

Concert promoters reportedly may have recorded tons more rehearsal footage like this during Jackson’s last days. If we ever get to see more of it, who knows what we’ll find. For now, though, it’s both reassuring and more than a little sad to see that Michael Jackson could still move like that, even at the end. What do you think of this clip? Do you want to see more of those final rehearsals?

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