The Story of J & J Hip Hop Dance Company
& Owner Joseph R. Cantu
Owner Joseph R. Cantu has been teaching hip hop dance for over 11 years to many hurting, underprivileged, and at risk youth. This passion developed as he was once a hurting young man himself. Joseph wanted other people to know it was okay to dance and use it for a greater purpose and to inspire other hurting people.
Some would say Joseph's journey started in his first church in 2002 with close to 100 of his young street youth having amazing skill for breaking and hip hop dancing. He knew they needed to channel that skill into a positive and productive message. So Joseph helped them form their first hip hop dance crew. One thing many people did not know at the time however, is that Joseph had taken hip hop dance classes since he was 8 years old. He grew up dancing since childhood and was the child of an amazing Arthur Murry’s Latin Ballroom Instructor. Through helping this crew implement choreography with their breaking dancing and hip hop dance ability, it was actually bringing childhood memories back to Joseph. Memories of him sitting on a wood dance floor admiring his mom teach her dance students complicated Latin Ballroom routines. Recalling thoughts of his mom performing and being awe struck by her talent and poise in her dance ability. Thinking back to the steps she taught him in the tiny living room of her apartment.
Joseph soon realized that teaching the youth life skills, and how to use their dance for inspiration, helped them to tell their life stories in a new way. After working with his youth from 2002 - 2003, Joseph was inspired to dig back into his dance ability and take it further. However, things did not happen as quickly as he had hoped. Life dealt Joseph and his family some challenges and complications for many years. He went through a few hard years of poverty, poor living, and even went homeless for several months. Joseph did whatever he could to help his family survive in whatever ways he could. When he felt depressed and defeated about his situations, Joseph would dance in his living room at home, using dance inspiration from movies like “You Got Served”, "Stomp The Yard", and “Step Up.” During this time, visions of choreography combos began to set within Joseph's mind and heart. This is where he utilized his three sons, and began to teach them hip hop dance. He used them to bring life to his choreography. After many struggles Joseph began to find his bearings in life once again and discovered hope once more. Through overcoming these many storms, eventually Joseph was inspired to put together a new dance crew of several hurting youth in 2007 out of Austin Texas. He knew he had a story to tell that could inspire others, and help bring life back to their hearts as well. These stories were going to be told through his crew and their inspiring choreography. For training, Joseph held many classes for his dancers in a small room from one location to the next. These classes were to prepare these new dancers to showcase and inspire hurting people in the surrounding communities. In 2007, this crew constructed their first stage in the middle of an Austin Texas field using a semi truck flat bed. They utilized sheets to construct the stage backdrop and purchased a few 4x4 wood beams to hold the sheets up.
"No matter what little we had, we used it to allow the dance crew to perform to inspire everyone possible. It was an inspiration of hope and accomplishment for us all." - Joseph C.
In 2008 Joseph had tremendous support from the Texas community, his friends, and partners. They put a larger team of talent together, and selected top dancers to perform for the community of Bastrop, Texas. This brought about the second Restoration Explosion Outreach. However, this time a large stage was put together along with many helping hands. The Hiz Hop Crew had many dancers now, and their lives were changed and inspired through the training and performances for the community. A vision was being formed in Joseph's heart and he made it a goal to continue dance training the hurting youth so they could use their dance talent and stories for greater purposes. It was in late 2008 when Joseph received a troubling call from his Colorado Pastor asking for his help. His pastor and mentor Dr. Joe Malacara explained that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was having a very hard time. Joseph packed up his family as soon as he could and moved them back to Colorado Springs. Joseph immediately began assisting Dr. Joe in running the K-12 School and the Church. After several months of settling home in Colorado Springs, Joseph decided it was time to put together an after school dance program for the students of the school. He invited the students to stay after school and take dance class. Many of these kids were underprivileged and hurting or neglected by their families. Soon enough, Joseph formed another Hiz Hop Dance Crew. He put this crew together as privilege to the students in the class to work hard in school, and to go out and inspire all other hurting people in the community.
Several years went by and Joseph continued holding dance classes in whatever rooms were available in the school. Their challenges were few, but small spaces, carpeted floors, and no mirrors for training made it interesting. Joseph used 2 small body mirrors as a means to teach choreography and watch the dancers behind him in the mirrors for mistakes and technique. Finally in 2010 Joseph was given an opportunity to teach a class at Colorado Music Studios, where in return he would be allowed to teach his own students, and crew in the extra studio time slots. For the first time Joseph was able to experience wall to wall mirrors and a real studio dance floor. It was a perfect opportunity for teaching his after school students and continued training the Hiz Hop Dance Crew. It was not long before people were passing by the dance studio windows and stopping in to watch the classes. Spectators were very impressed and would constantly asked, “How much do you charge to teach, and can you teach my child?” The problem was that Joseph had never charged before and had to start thinking about where this was all going. Joseph thought he could use help paying for the extra time slots he was taking in the studio for the Hiz Hop Crew practices, and to help with their travel expenses to the hurting communities. After several months of taking in paying students for the first time, Joseph decided to become a sole proprietor. He made clear however, that he would charge a flat affordable fee for all his students so that everyone would have the opportunity to be a part if they wanted to. If there was anything left over in finances, it was always put back into the Hiz Hop Dance Crew travel, outfits, needs, meals and gas for their community outreaches. As time passed, many more new students enrolled in Joseph's hip hop dance classes simply by word of mouth or a simple Craiglist add. Growth was certain and began to develop new needs for additional instructors and more classes. Joseph soon found himself a new opportunity at All About Dance Studio. Where more class times were available, and the owner was more than willing to support his efforts and now business.
Currently J & J Hip Hop Dance Company offers amazing street hip hop dance classes while still keeping to the positive music and a positive message. The roots of this journey remain strong as the Hiz Hop Dance Crew began touring in 2011 on the Restoration Explosion Tours, in cities such as Denver, Thorton, Brighton, Wheatridge, Aurora, Pueblo,
Lamar, Colorado Springs, and Espanola, New Mexico. Hundreds and hundreds of lives have been impacted by the life changing messages we put into our routines and training. With the tremendous growth in business, J & J Hip Hop Dance Company, LLC was finally formed in August of 2013. Owners Joseph R. Cantu and his wife Stephanie R. Cantu are humbled by the growth, but most honored by the impact of the lives who have been touched through the classes and training. What the near future holds is still to be written… We are look forward to it with a smile!
"The purpose is to inspire our dance students to not only be skilled dancers, but to also be instruments of inspiration to all who need it." - Joseph C.
Hip Hop Dance instruction that inspires, motivates, and trains in skill. Where dreamers can turn into extraordinary dancers.