Step in Time

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"Step In Time" is a song and dance number from Walt Disney's 1964 film Mary Poppins, and it is composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The choreography for this song was provided by Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. It is sung by Bert, the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke) and the other chimney sweeps on the rooftops of London. In the first part of the song, the lines he says in the verses are "Kick your knees up", "'Round the chimney", "Flap like a birdie", "Up on the railing", "Over the rooftops" and "Link your elbows" followed by an interlude. The interlude continues with Bert, Mary Poppins, Michael, Jane and all the chimney sweepers dancing around the rooftops and as Admiral Boom looks at them with the telescope, he thinks that they're Hottentots, so he orders Mr. Binnacle to make them scram with colorful fireworks. In the second part, as all the chimney sweepers get in the house of George Banks, Mrs. Brill walks into the living room looking at them and screams, "They're at it again!" and she runs away trying to strike one of the chimney sweepers with a frying pan. As Jane, Michael, Mary Poppins and Bert get in the same place, Ellen runs around the dining room with an "OW!" and the chimney sweepers flip her. The other phrases in the rest of the musical number are "Votes for women," "It's the master," and "What's all this?"

"Step In Time" appears in the stage musical, with a very similar purpose. The main difference, however, is that (thanks to the possibilities of sophisticated theatrical staging) Bert walks upside down on the proscenium arch over the stage. In addition, this version of the song is sung to show Jane and Michael that chimney sweeps are also guardian angels.

It is very similar to the song "Me Ol' Bamboo" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, also written by the Sherman brothers and performed by Van Dyke. Both songs are loosely based on the repetitive physical action song "Knees Up Mother Brown", popular in British music halls and Cockney pubs, especially during World War II.

A shortened version is also present on the Disney's Sing Along Songs video, "Disneyland Fun".

A rendition also appears on the 1982 exercise album Mousercise, but with mostly different lyrics ("Kick Your Knees Up" and "Flap Like A Birdie" are kept in this version). This version was also seen as an episode of D-TV on the Disney Channel.

Main lyrics[edit]

Blank spaces indicate sections where any short phrase can be added. However, the second and third blank spaces must be the same phrase as the first one in each verse.

_________________________, step in time
_________________________, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
_________________________, step in time

Lines in the film[edit]

  1. Kick your knees up
  2. 'Round the chimney
  3. Flap like a birdie
  4. Up on the railing
  5. Over the rooftops
  6. Link your elbows
  7. Mary Poppins
  8. (Ah!) They're at it again
  9. OW!
  10. Votes for women
  11. It's the master
  12. What's all this?

The first seven phrases were sung on the rooftops of London, while the last five were sung in the Banks residence. Additionally, the final phrase, "What's all this?", is not appended with "Step in time." Instead, the sweeps simply sing several times "What's all this?"

Literary Sources[edit]