What To Do When You’re Not the Favorite with Ashley Mowrey

Board Game Pawns with Drawn on Faces

What To Do When You’re Not the Favorite

by Ashley Mowrey

Favoritism. We’ve all seen it in the dance community. Most of us have experienced it on either side, maybe both at different times. You’re working hard, you want to get noticed by your teacher, but they seem fixated on another dancer. Week after week, you see this dancer get the attention, the parts, the special treatment.

Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in dance. Certain teachers have natural connections with certain students. Maybe they’re family friends. Or they’ve been their student the longest. Whatever the reason, favoritism can be hard to navigate. Here are a few things you can do if you’re in this situation.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and practice self-awareness:

 Yes, it’s sometimes hard not being the teacher’s pet. And that’s okay. Your feelings are valid, and stuffing them down or wishing them away won’t help. Instead, acknowledge them by bringing awareness and language to what you’re experiencing. How does it feel when you feel left out or ignored? What thoughts come up in these situations? How do you respond or react?

When we can be aware of the connection between our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we can start to see our patterns and what we’d like to change. When faced with favoritism, how would you like to respond instead? What do you need in those moments to be intentional about your response and actions? Here’s an example:



Katie is getting all the attention and praise...again

Katie is getting all the attention and praise...again


Ugh, here we go again. Wonder if I’ll ever get noticed.

Katie’s getting attention right now. I’m going to focus on myself and my growth. I belong here too.


Jealous, frustrated, hurt, sad

A bit annoyed and sad but confident in self to continue working hard


Shut down, stop working, zone out, spiral into comparison, etc

Focused and putting in the effort


Less growth and stalling of learning

Continuous learning and growth


Try this out on your own and write it out based on a past experience and what could be different next time. If you need some help, here’s a great exercise to walk you through it.

  1. Tune it out and focus on yourself:

It can be easy to get wrapped up in wanting to get noticed or praised. But what if, instead, your motivation came from within? What would it be like to dance for yourself and focus on your craft and growth? If you’re having a hard time not attaching to praise, check out my article on praise and criticism to help. A positive self-talk mantra can also be helpful to remember that your worth and validation come from within. Some of my favorites are: I am worthy. I belong here. I am enough.

  1. Get curious:

Without judgment and with lots of self-compassion, get real with yourself about your current behaviors in class and rehearsals. Be curious about your areas to improve, both in skills, strength, and behaviors. Ask yourself these questions and explore what changes you’d like to make:

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses in technique and skills?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses in strength and flexibility?
  • Am I early for class?
  • Do I hear and apply corrections and feedback?
  • Am I eager to learn and try new skills?
  • Do I come to rehearsals knowing my choreography?
  • Am I kind and respectful to my teammates and teachers?
  1. Communication is key:

Communication with your teachers can play an essential role in handling favoritism as well as help support your journey as a dancer. Set up a time to meet with your teacher in private to discuss your goals and desire for feedback. If you’re a minor, it’s important to include a parent/guardian or another teacher/mentor in this meeting to maintain appropriate boundaries.

During the discussion, keep the focus on you and your path, not on the favoritism you see. Share your current dance-related goals and ask for guidance. Let your teacher know that you’d like more feedback in class and be open to their response and suggestions.

  1. Know if it’s time to go:

Your training is about you, Dancer. If you’ve tried out everything above and after a few months you don’t feel any different, decide your next steps. Do you have another conversation and keep trying? Do you explore other training options? Studio hopping is never ideal, but if your current environment is not supportive of your growth or healthy for your mental well-being, it’s okay to explore your options. You are the expert on you, so take some time to reflect on what you want and need and make it happen.

Navigating favoritism isn’t straightforward and is often complex and nuanced. But I hope that now you feel ready and able to handle it. You’ve got this!  If you’d like support while you go through this process or are interested in my work, head to my website. You can also find me on Instagram for more free tools, resources, and inspiration.

Chat soon!

Ashley Mowrey is a Mindset Coach and Educator for dancers, helping you calm the mind and body, cultivate self-confidence, and create inner strength. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, a Whole Person Certified Coach through Coach Training World, a trained facilitator in Tara Mohr’s Playing Big Leadership Program, a specialist for Doctors for Dancers, and a blog contributor for Apolla Performance. Ashley has recently joined the faculty for Embody Dance Conference, a new convention coming August 2021. There she will lead workshops for all age groups, including parents and teachers, on mindset skills. She is also a Team Member of Dancer, 360, and is a contributor to their upcoming book. Ashley trained as a competitive dancer out of Dallas, TX, before teaching and eventually directing a company and dance studio in Fayetteville, AR. During those years, she felt drawn towards the dancer’s mindset and the need for training and tools in the dance community to foster mental health and well-being. She sees clients in-person and via Skype/Zoom all over the country and travels (in-person and virtually) to studios for customized group workshops. Ashley has also been featured on the Pointe to Rise Podcast, Dance Studio Amplified Podcast (Ep. 14), Dance Boss University Mastermind guest presenter, and episode 58 of Dance Boss Podcast. Head to her website for more information or her Instagram for free tools and resources to help you build a healthy mindset to navigate the dance world at your best.

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