7 SIMILARITIES you never noticed between Tchaikovsky’s SWAN LAKE and Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID…

As I prepare myself for seeing Matthew Bourne’s modern take on the infamous ballet Swan Lake which is at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, I found myself thinking about fairytales and how the ballet-famous story of Swan Lake might tickle the Disney-lover inside you too*.

7 SIMILARITIES you never noticed between Tchaikovsky’s SWAN LAKE and Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID…


Desperate for Change

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel (a mermaid) is desperate to experience humans and life and love out of the sea. Ariel is then transformed by a sea witch (using sorcery) into a human but with strict conditions to fulfil, which if failed, may leave her doomed forever.

In Swan Lake, Odette (a human) is cursed by a sorcerer and transformed into a swan and forced to live her life at an enchanted lake created from her mothers tears forever.

Watery Surroundings

Whilst using completely different settings, both stories are connected to water.

In Swan Lake, Odette is transformed into a swan and lives in an enchanted lake.

In The Little Mermaid Ariel lives in Atlantis under the sea.

The Conditions

In Swan Lake, Odette tells Prince Siegfried that only a first, true love that is pledged forever, will break the sorcerers spell.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel (minus her voice, which she sacrificed) must win Prince Eric’s true loves kiss to remain a human forever, otherwise she will be transformed back into a mermaid and be prisoner to Ursula.

The Trick Decoy

In Swan lake the sorcerer Rothbart transforms his daughter Odile to look like Odette. Then tricks the Prince Siegfried into falling for Odile (whilst looking like Odette).

In The Little Mermaid the sea witch Ursula transforms herself into a human and uses Ariel’s stolen voice to trick Prince Eric into falling for her, ensuring Ariel is doomed.

The Love Failure (Oh, boy!)

In Swan Lake, Prince Siegfried falls for Odile who is being used to trick him into believing she is Odette. Dooming Odette to remain a swan forever.

In The Little Mermaid, Prince Eric gets spellbound and falls for human Ursula with Ariel’s voice.

Finding One’s Self

Both characters long to be human. Whether you look at it as a literal meaning or deeper as a metaphorical meaning, both young ladies are longing to find their true self.

Death of Evil

In both stories the sorcerer / sea witch character meats a grizzly fate and in doing so, people get saved.

In The Little Mermaid, Ursula’s prisoners get released and restored back to being mermaid/merman.

In Swan Lake, the little swans who are companion to Odette are saved when the sorcerer Rothbart dies.


Of course, there is tons of things that are unique to each story and even more so on each different production of a story, and I don’t doubt I am going to find some vast differences in Matthew Bourne’s production of SWAN LAKE tonight, but I think I’m onto something there with spotting fairytale similarities.

What do you think? Do you know any glaring similarities between any other fairytales?

*For this article I look at the traditional classical portrayal of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the original Disney movie of The Little Mermaid from 1989 which got myself umming and urr-ing.

Tonight I have been gifted tickets to watch Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at Milton Keynes Theatre as part of their press night performance. In no way does free tickets buy my opinions or do Milton Keynes Theatre tell me what to publish or say. I blog at my own free will but need to be transparent. 👊🏻