COLORADO SPRINGS — Of all the corners of society that are ready for a summer of rejoice and rejuvenation, the performers among us are near the top of the list with excitement.

For J&J Hip Hop Dance and Performing Arts Company, it means returning to its mission of helping underprivileged kids and struggling families escape and grow through performances.

“Dance helps people deal with a lot of emotional distress,” said Joseph Cantu, owner of the dance company. “Really, you know you have physical therapy, but this is a mental therapy as well.”

Grants from the Colorado Arts Relief Grant kept J&J’s doors open through the pandemic and helped the dance company provide scholarships to some students.

Quarantine limited many kids’ ability to keep up with class and performances were hard to come by. Their annual dance showcase was cancelled during the pandemic last summer.

Cantu says some students struggled with depression and family situations.

“It really was difficult for a lot of our students because this is their outlet for a lot of them,” Cantu said. “We’re just grateful that we’re able to bring it back.”

Many students, though, couldn’t keep from training in some fashion for the past 15 months and they’re close to having 400 students again.

Hundreds more than that watched their performance Saturday in downtown Colorado Springs.

“We’re all about community,” Cantu explained. “We’re all about helping out students that really wouldn’t have another place to go for dance, other than offering the opportunities that we’re offering them here.”