Madonna‘s new video for “Dark Ballet” is as bold and artistic as they come. It stars rapper Mykki Blanco as Joan of Arc, the French heroine who led soldiers to victory in numerous battles and was eventually burned by the English at the stake. The visual follows this path to her execution and shows the pain and resilience that made her into a martyr figure that’s been able to survive into modern pop culture. We’ve all heard about Joan of Arc’s achievements on the battlefield, but this intimate story deserves to be told as well.
Joan of Arc received her first divine vision from God at 13 years old; years later, she would be placed at the head of French forces and was thought to be directly responsible for winning multiple battles. Her bravery was applauded. She was later ambushed at a battle, imprisoned by English officials, and executed. Records show that she asked for a crucifix to be held in front of her while being burned. She wasn’t afraid.
Madonna’s video assumes that you know of her powerful achievements because it jumps straight to the road towards execution. Mykki Blanco’s Joan of Arc is powerful but afraid. As she frets about the pending execution, she’s shown to be in different mental spaces, hesitant to accept death, yet an unmovable force in the face of English intimidation. We’re shown the haunting burning from multiple angles, the last finding Blanco’s Joan smiling.
“Dark Ballet” is the fifth song released from Madonna’s forthcoming album Madame X following “Medellín” with Maluma, “I Rise,” “Crave” with Swae Lee, and “Future” with Quavo. Madame X will be out on June 14.
Watch the powerful video for “Dark Ballet” up above.