Ciara’s “Level Up” isn’t just a hit song and a viral dance challenge — it’s its own lifestyle mantra, one that’s inspired both the singer and her fans to set goals and motivate each other to achieve them.
“Leveling up means that you’re making decisions to do better in life,” the singer, who stars in Equinox’s new LIFE short film — directed by fashion photographer Nick Knight — tells Billboard. “It can mean a lot of things. It can be something as simple as taking the first step you need to take to advance [in your career]. Or if it’s in a relationship, making sure that you’re loving yourself and also giving 100 percent.”
The message also applies to fitness — no surprise for Ciara, who’s been producing intense, dance-heavy music videos for almost 15 years. “Have a plan that works for you, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing,” she advises. “Commit to that plan so you can be your best self. There’s no better feeling than the day you don’t want to work out and don’t feel like doing it, but you go and do it and push yourself. You feel 100 percent better. For me, I feel like I can conquer the world when I push myself at those moments.”
The music video for “Level Up” — which made Billboard’s list of the best music videos of 2018 — features some of Ciara’s most heart-pumping choreography to date. “You definitely have to get your cardio game strong,” she says. “For me, when I’m preparing for a lot of dancing, cardio is a focal point for my workout routines. It’s the thing that helps me sustain all of the intense choreo that we do. But more than anything, you have to have fun. When you’re having a good time, the routines that we do don’t feel as heavy. When you’re having fun with all of it, it feels lighter.”
With a body of work that includes her gravity-defying moves in 2006’s “Promise” and her mesmerizing “Ride” routine from 2010, Ciara admits she sometimes feels the pressure to top her last project. “I’m always thinking about how I hope to do something that’s going to feel fresher than the last video I gave my fans,” she says. “It makes me push myself harder each time. When your fans do show you love, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I really hope they like this next visual.” I definitely have those thoughts in my mind. I just always want my fans to be happy, and I hope they like when I put out something new.”
Good news for them: More new music and dance routines are coming in 2019. The singer recently told Billboard about her plans for next year. “I’m looking forward to giving my fans more music and continuing to take them on my journey in life and music,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying the connection I’ve been having with my fans. So I’m excited about that, and of course touring. I’m looking forward to hitting the road and sharing my tour with fans as well.”