Never-before-seen footage of Michael Jackson’s HIStory World Tour rehearsals appears online!

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Approximately twenty minutes of never-before-seen footage filmed during Michael Jackson’s private HIStory World Tour rehearsals has appeared online today.

The tour, which kicked off in September 1996 and finished more than a year later in October 1997, visited 58 cities, hosting 82 concerts in 35 countries across 5 continents while reaching an audience of 4.5 million fans and grossing $165 million.

Much like the This Is It film, the newly-leaked footage takes you behind the scenes of Jackson’s rehearsal process, showcasing the King of Pop singing, dancing and brainstorming with his collaborative partners.

The footage also features candid interviews with a number of tour personnel including choreographers, drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, and co-director Kenny Ortega.

“It’s always a partnership with Michael,” says Ortega in the footage. “I was co-directing, co-conceptualising and co-staging… I had a strong partner there who really had belief in the potential of this tour from the very start.”

And as with This Is It, preparations for the HIStory World tour were a race against the clock as opening night approached.

“The challenge I think was in the physical time we had,” explains Ortega. “Could we get everything built? Could we practise with everything in time…”

As far as concert tours in the mid-90s went, Jackson’s HIStory was a logistical monster. The sound and lighting rigs were enormous. There were several hydraulic-powered people launchers, which Jackson called “toasters”, built into the stage. There was the “MJ-2040” rocket ship from which Jackson would triumphantly emerge dressed as a gold-plated space soldier seemingly inspired by C3PO from Star Wars. There was a giant “cherry picker” crane rigged with a high-powered fan, smoke and lights that would take Jackson out above his screaming audience during the show. And there was a military tank that would invade the stage in a moving theatrical rendition of “Earth Song”.

“We looked at each other kind of like; Do we dare actually build a tank? Where will it come from and how will we get it up there?” remembers Ortega. “So we basically designed the stage around being able to accomplish this feat.”

Although there do not appear to be any plans in place to officially release this captivating rehearsal footage, there has been some work done on preparing high-definition footage of the HIStory World Tour itself for a possible 3D cinema presentation.

To view the available footage simply watch the embedded video below, or click here to be taken to YouTube.

Discuss below…

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