With loud music, bright lights and performers running on and off stage during a 2013 performance of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” in New York, the audience would have never guessed that backstage, Adam Dyer was gathering scriptures and quotes to prepare for his upcoming lesson in Elder’s Quorum.
As a recent convert to the Church, Dyer was still learning to balance his life as a member of the Church and a Broadway performer. After his lesson the following Sunday morning, Dyer had to rush through the busy streets of New York City back to the theater for a matinee show.
It was in that moment that Dyer realized what was most important to him. Despite the adoring tourists from all across the world who paid to see the show, he realized it was his family, the gospel and the connection he had with his friends that were most important and what life is ultimately about.
This was a turning point in Dyer’s life. Rather than chasing the bright lights of theater, Dyer decided he wanted to facilitate positive connections with those around him, which ultimately led him to a job at BYU.
Connecting dance and religion
“I think I had several moments where I thought, ‘Yes, dance and performance and musical theater are amazing, but what I really want to do is connect with people about the gospel,’” Dyer said.
He finds excitement in connecting his beliefs to dance and other forms of art. He is constantly learning new ways to integrate principles of the gospel into his dance classes.
A former student of Dyer’s, Lyric Ikeomu, said her success in his class was rooted in Dyer’s integration of the gospel into his classroom.
“One of the reasons I think his class was so successful and beneficial for all the students in it was because we took the time every day to have a spiritual thought and discussion. His class was one of the first dance classes that I really felt the spirit throughout the entire class duration,” Ikeomu said.
Dyer’s excitement for the gospel is constantly integrated into the classroom because he still feels the pull of the world. He said he brings the gospel into the classroom so he can “keep (himself) on the straight and narrow,” while also creating an uplifting environment.
Finding purpose in performing
Dyer first learned about the Church after he met a less active member who had been challenged to read the Book of Mormon while working on a Disney cruise line.
“Just from being around her, you could feel that power. I just kept asking her questions until I could receive that spirit for myself,” Dyer said. He was eventually baptized a member of the Church when he moved to Orlando to work at Walt Disney World in 2006.
Dyer traveled all over the world during his career and has worked on a variety of projects, including Walt Disney’s “Finding Nemo: The Musical,” Franco Dragone Shows in Las Vegas, and “The House of Dancing Water” in Macau, China. He swung into the audience as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” and he also worked at Broadway Dance Center developing new courses for students. Dyer said he sought to work with “shows which are awe-inspiring and really lift the audience, so I felt that I was able to use the arts to bring light into people’s lives.”
Dyer explained at times he didn’t get jobs because of his association with the Church. He talked about how some individuals considered him conservative or old-fashioned. But he said in the end, he seeks approval in his relationship with God and trusts that he is moving in the right direction.
“When I have a chance each day to get back to my scriptures and kneel in prayer, I always feel approval from our Father in Heaven,” Dyer said.
Coming to BYU
All of these unique experiences brought him to his current position as a professor at BYU in 2019. His students admire his knowledge and experience in the professional industry.
“He also brings a lot of experience and knowledge from his own life to each of his students, which is really inspiring and a great source of knowledge,” Ikeomu said.
As a senior in the dance department, Joey Anderson has had the opportunity to train with Dyer and enjoys the energy he brings to the studio.
“Adam Dyer brings a lifetime of professional experience and connections in the industry. His attitude of positivity is felt by everyone around him, and he supports each of his students,” Anderson said.
Anderson is especially thankful for the expertise Dyer has brought to BYU. In Dyer’s work with BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, he has trained students in aerial work, which has never been seen before in the BYU dance department.
“Adam has opened the door to me to work as an aerialist. Without him being here, I would have no experience with ropes. I very likely would not have had this chance anywhere else,” Anderson said. “He has supported me in my dream of wanting to perform professionally, which I am incredibly grateful for.”
Dyer has been a member of the BYU dance department for a year and hopes for many more. Having traveled throughout his career, from New York to Orlando to China, he has sought to make connections with others. Here in Provo, Dyer has constructed a new space where his connections are made with the gospel in the classroom, all while supporting and encouraging students to follow their dreams.