Standing onstage at the Ford Amphitheatre on the evening of Sept. 15 for J.U.i.C.E.’s “Hip Hop Ya Don’t Stop!” Jam Session, I was overcome with awe, emotion and inspiration. To my left were Amy “Catfox” Campion of Antics Performance and Marissa Labog of One Step Ahead demonstrating breaking moves to several enthusiastic kids. Scatterbrain, J.U.i.C.E.’s music production coordinator and Nameless, its MC coordinator, were holding the mic, spitting while encouraging a handful of bashful bystanders to rhyme, too. B-girl Peppa and b-boy Barafuco of Outer Circle were stretching on the side, in attendance to show their support. Graffiti writers and turntablists were also on hand to impart their knowledge.

This night was just one event in a string of weeklies sponsored by J.U.i.C.E. (Justice Uniting in Creative Energy), a community organization focused on youth empowerment and education through the hip-hop arts.

Executive director Monica Delgado explains the mission of the seven-year-old non-profit. “We want to create a safe space for young people to come and engage in [hip-hop] arts. We encourage peer mentorships. The only rule is respect.”

On Oct. 4, J.U.i.C.E. and Amy “Catfox” Campion’s Antics Performance present “JUiCE Hip Hop Dance Festival,” a showcase of the best in L.A. hip-hop choreography of all street dance styles. A whirlwind of breaking, popping, locking, krumping, fusions of breaking and modern, hip-hop and jazz, the performances will be all across the board.

For Peppa and Barafuco, this is an opportunity to step outside of the box.

“We are hip-hop dancers,” starts Peppa, “but we’re going to be doing other forms of dance: salsa, swing, partner, popping, locking, breaking, top rocking.

“[Our piece] is going to be magical, imaginative,” she continues. “We’re going to let the audience use its imagination of where we come from and what’s really going on onstage and who we are.”

Some of the other companies featured will be Lux Aeterna and the Get Down Dolls.

This is the second year in a row that the Ford is presenting the J.U.i.C.E. festival. Last year, their debut, was an incredible success.

“Last year the Ford took a gamble on us,” states Campion. “Ford had never had hip-hop before and they were searching for younger audiences.”

With a second CD in the works and hopes to open its own 24-7 community center, squeezing societal ills into an inspirational cypher and pouring out kids with hopeful, creative futures within their grasp.

“It’s great to see the metamorphosis of young people,” relays Nameless, “not just the skill level but it’s an organic form of mentorship by your peer. Healthy habits are encouraged.”

“JUiCE Hip Hop Dance Festival” will take place Oct. 4 at the Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Tickets $25, students $5. For more information, visit