There are a number of trance dances among the traditional dances of Java. Kuda Lumping (or Lèmpèng which is less commonly spelt but perhaps more proper) is one of these trance dances. Not unlike many of the other trance dances, Kuda Lumping is about the battle of good and evil. Masks are used by the dancers to pose as various spirits and the main characters are the horse riding dancers. The name Kuda Lumping literally means "flat horses". Once into trance, the horse-riding dancers start behaving like horses and thence begin their battle against the evil.
The event usually takes place in a bamboo corral and is accompanied by a gamelan orchestra and a singer who tells the story in Javanese. Mostly performed exclusively by men, the dance performances could last for 3 hours and involves several groups of dancers. It is very much a social event, which the community or simply the neighbourhood will participate either as audience or helper.
An account of an onlooker has highlighted the communal nature of the event "The fellow with his head bowed had the role of cracking the whip lying in front of him to work the dancers into a frenzy, and also the role of the dragon Barongan. The dragon has a major role, being the character who pulls the dancers out of their trance. One by one they fling themselves on the ground in front of him and are helped out of the corral. This dancer has just thrown himself to the dragon. There are always helpers in the corral, dressed in street clothes and smoking, who help the dancers when they drop something or need help with props or their trance." (Duane Ruth-Heffelbower, Kuda Lèmpèng, 23 January 2001, from the internet www.peacemaking.com/indonesia/images/kuda.html).
Such is the nature of the performance where the division between stage and off-stage is unclear and the theatrical atmosphere is mingled with a huge dose of casualness. For the people's artist, this would be the perfect subject. This is the scene closely related to the common folks and participated by them. Yet, this remains a scene that could offer Hendra, the drama, colours, culture, magic and belief of his beloved people and land. For an artist of Hendra's generation, who had been involved with theatre and with mystic healing, Kuda Lumping, with this particular depiction of one of the high point of the performance when the battle is at its best and intensed, exudes a feel that is both awesome and dramatic. To this effect, the onlookers were reduced to miniature figures lining the beach in the background.