Born and raised in Guatemala, Melanie Ríos Glaser has been a part of The Wooden Floor family since 1999 and was recruited as the first guest choreographer by the organization’s Founder, Beth Burns. She succeeded the Founder as the organizations’ Artistic Director in 2005 and was named Executive & Artistic Director in 2008 until 2012, when she became Artistic Director and Co-CEO. Melanie received her BFA from the Juilliard School, was named a Kennedy Center Fellow in 1998, and a Fulbright Scholar in Paris in 2003.  

Melanie has choreographed more than 30 pieces for groups that include UC Irvine’s Dance Department, Group Motion Dance Theatre Company, Ballet Moderno y Folklórico de Guatemala, Ballet de Cali, her own Mosquito Dance Company and The Wooden Floor. Her work has been performed in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, France, Colombia, Brazil, California, Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere.

As a dance educator for over sixteen years, Melanie has a marked interest in dance improvisation, contact improvisation and dance composition. Melanie was certified in 2003, as a somatic educator at Moving on Center in Oakland, California. She has been a guest teacher at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and most recently at UCI.

Melanie enjoys volunteering as a consultant for other nonprofits on issues of nonprofit management, governance, fundraising, and programming.


Awards and Honors

  • Mujer Destacada: 30 Remarkable Southern California Latin American Women - La Opinión
  • “A Day in the Life of Melanie Ríos Glaser” - Coast Magazine Feature 2010
  • “2010 Women Making a Difference” - California State Senate (Orange County) 2010
  • Nominee for the “Women in Business Award” - Orange County Business Journal 2009
  • Top 40 under 40, OC’s Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs and Executives - OC Metro Magazine 2008
  • Monthly “Person of Influence” - Los Angeles Times Magazine 2008
  • Fulbright Scholar in Paris - 2003-2004
  • Award for Sustained Contribution to the Arts - El Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes de Guatemala 2001
  • Award for distinguished artists from the Americas - Kennedy Center Fellowship of the Americas 1998