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Michael Jackson was too sick to dance at rehearsals, director says

September 27, 2011 |  3:13 pm

Kenny Ortega, the renowned choreographer and director, took the stand Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's personal physician, and told jurors he had grave concerns about the singer's health and his doctor's conduct.

Ortega, director of Jackson's "This Is It" comeback concerts, said that the week before Jackson's death, Jackson showed up at rehearsals too ill to dance. Ortega, who also directed "High School Musical" and choreographed "Dirty Dancing," read an email in court that he wrote to a concert promoter raising questions about whether the shows should be canceled.

 Live video: Full coverage of Conrad Murray's trial

"Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated," Ortega read from the email. He added, "there still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs."

Ortega testified that when he approached Murray, the doctor told him to butt out of Jackson's medical care.

Ortega was the first witness in a trial scheduled to last five weeks.

Murray, 58, is accused of manslaughter. Ortega is to be followed to the stand by Paul Gongaware, who worked for Jackson’s concert promoter, AEG Live. Gongaware, according to another prosecutor, will also testify about conversations with Murray and Jackson.


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-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim at Los Angeles County Superior Court

Photo: Choreographer Kenny Ortega, left, is questioned by Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren during the Conrad Murray trial in Los Angeles.

Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times